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Qatari Emir Hopes President would Postpone Consultations, Suleiman Sees No Justification for it

Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani hoped in a telephone with President Michel Suleiman that the parliamentary consultations over appointing a new prime minister would be postponed in order to allow more room for reaching a settlement, revealed Arab diplomatic sources to the daily Al-Mustaqbal Sunday.

Suleiman, however, ruled out such a development, saying that it would be “unjustified seeing as he was the one who called for holding the consultations in the first place,” reported the daily An Nahar Sunday from the president’s visitors.

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Fresh Grenade Attack Rocks Tripoli

A grenade exploded at a market in the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, a security official said, in the second such blast in the area in as many days.

The device hurled by unidentified assailants went off in Souk al-Qameh on a road between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, the official told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity.

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Political Crisis Threatens Economic Gains

The political crisis in Lebanon is threatening to derail economic progress after a year that saw 7 percent economic growth, a record number of tourists and bank deposits among the highest in the Middle East.

Lebanon's government collapsed Jan. 12 after Hizbullah and its allies resigned from the Cabinet in a dispute over a U.N. court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

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4 Tripoli MPs Under Spotlight: Votes Are Necessary to Keep Hariri in Power

Eyes are turned to four Tripoli MPs whose decision on whether to name the March 8 or the March 14 nominee for the premiership would play an important role in deciding the fate of the government.

Former PM Najib Miqati, Minister Mohammed Safadi, Ahmed Karami and Qassem Abdelaziz are expected to meet on Saturday to announce their final stance from parliamentary consultations that will be held on Monday and Tuesday.

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March 14 Meetings in Several Cities in Support for Hariri

March 14 supporters are holding several meetings and conferences in Beirut and the northern port city of Tripoli in support of Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri.

More than 500 personalities, including doctors, engineers, lawyers and academics will hold a meeting at the Quality Inn Hotel in Tripoli.

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Consultations Could be Postponed Again Over Equal Votes on PM

Informed sources did not rule out a postponement in parliamentary consultations set for Monday and Tuesday over the division of votes for the new prime minister.

The sources told al-Liwaa daily in remarks published Saturday that votes could be divided between 64 in favor of Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri and another 64 in favor of former Premier Omar Karami, leading to the postponement of the binding consultations.

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Ban Stresses ‘Open Dialogue,’ Says Lebanon Should Continue to Fund Tribunal

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has stressed that the Lebanese government should “abide by its commitments” and continue to pay its share of the international tribunal’s funds.

In remarks to Arab satellite TV network al-Arabiya, Ban said Lebanon should be loyal to its commitments because the court was established by the Security Council upon the demand of the Lebanese people and government.

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Nasrallah, Syria Asked Jumblat for 7 Votes in Favor of Karami: Non-party Members Support Hariri

An agreement was reportedly made between the March 8 forces backed by Syria and Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblat for his bloc to give seven votes for the opposition’s nominee for the premier’s post, Omar Karami, amid efforts to guarantee a eighth MP.

An Nahar daily quoted March 14 forces as saying Saturday that Democratic Gathering MPs who are not members of Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party have informed him that they would nominate caretaker Premier Saad Hariri. They are: Mohammed al-Hajjar, Fouad al-Saad, Henri Helou, Marwan Hamadeh and Antoine Saad.

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Report: Saudi Embassy Urges Citizens to Take Precautionary Measures

The Saudi embassy has reportedly sent text messages to its citizens, urging them to take precautionary measures over the deteriorating political situation in Lebanon.

An embassy source told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Saturday that “given the situation …. the embassy asked its citizens to remain in contact with it to know what measures to take.”

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Sarkozy Adamant to Guarantee Lebanon’s Stability as Arab Officials Rush to Paris

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is reportedly adamant to continue contacts with friendly Arab countries to guarantee Lebanon’s stability following the collapse of the government and signs that the March 8 forces would have the upper hand in forming the new cabinet.

Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted French sources as saying that “Sarkozy is determined to continue efforts along with Arab countries friendly to Paris (to guarantee) the stability of Lebanon.”

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