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Storm Subsides on Saturday, 3 Syrians Missing

A snowstorm that has been lashing Lebanon since Wednesday is expected to subside over the weekend after claiming three victims in the Wadi Khaled region in Akkar.

The National News Agency said Thursday that Abdullah Rayya, Hassan Shmaisi and Walid Rayya, from the Syrian village of Maajir, were carried off by Nahr al-Kabir while riding their tractor on the Syrian side of the border.

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Cabinet Could be Formed Next Week After Reported Deal on Interior Ministry Portfolio

Premier-designate Najib Miqati and other officials were mum on Friday on the progress made in the government formation process despite media reports that the cabinet line-up could be announced soon following a deal on the controversial interior ministry portfolio.

Miqati headed to the north to take part in Friday prayers there and meet with personalities in the port city of Tripoli. He returned the same day.

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Khoja: Saudi Government Has No Hand in Article on Hariri

Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja stressed that an article by a Saudi journalist criticizing Caretaker PM Saad Hariri did not express the point of view of the Saudi government.

"We respect the Lebanese and their leaders and pluralism in Lebanon. As for what some journalists and writers deal with in their articles, expresses their own opinions and not that of the state, " Khoja said in a statement.

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Army Arrests Spy Network Leader in Jezzine

The Lebanese army intelligence in the south has arrested the leader of a network allegedly spying for Israel and providing it with information on Hizbullah, As Safir daily reported Friday.

The newspaper quoted informed sources as saying that the army was questioning the man identified only with his initials as M.S. over years of collaboration with Israel in the areas of Jezzine and Kfarhouna.

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GCC Hopes New Cabinet Would Meet Expectations of Lebanese

The Gulf Cooperation Council has hoped that Premier-designate Najib Miqati would succeed in forming a new government which satisfies the Lebanese.

In a statement following their meeting in Riyadh on Thursday, the GCC foreign ministers stressed “full support for Lebanese security and national unity.”

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U.S. Intelligence Chief: We Should Keep up Lebanon Military Aid

The United States should maintain military aid to the Lebanese army even if the government becomes controlled by Hizbullah, U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper said Thursday.

"I would think that to the extent that we can sustain influence and insight and help counterbalance the Hizbullah military wing, that it would be a good idea," Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told U.S. lawmakers.

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March 14 Political Document Calls for Ending 'Hegemony of Arms'

On the eve of an expected mass rally at the Martyrs Square to commemorate the March 14 anniversary, the March 14 forces endorsed Thursday a political document after a broad meeting at the Bristol Hotel in Beirut, which was attended by the coalition's leaders, MPs, politicians and activists.

"The pro-independence movement had extended its hand to the other camp in a bid to bring everyone under the State's wings, but the other parties, mainly Hizbullah, staged their coup after refusing to acknowledge the end of Syria's tutelage," March 14 forces said in the document, whose clauses were recited by MP Marwan Hamade after the meeting.

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Hariri: Arms Used against People Lose their Legitimacy

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed on Thursday that arms that are directed against what is just will fail as was demonstrated in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

He said after a luncheon banquet in the honor of various religious clerics: “Any arms used against the people lose their legitimacy and even state weapons would lose their legitimacy if they do not serve the people and their interests.”

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Williams Stresses Importance of Resuming National Dialogue Sessions on Defense Strategy

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams expressed hope on Thursday that Lebanese officials would continue holding national dialogue sessions under President Michel Suleiman’s endeavor.

“National dialogue could be an important forum for discussing many issues including the national defense strategy,” Williams said after meeting Premier-designate Najib Miqati.

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Qassem Narrows Down STL’s Role as Assault on Lebanon: March 14 Opposition Aimed at Creating Chaos

Hizbullah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem stressed on Thursday that the new majority in Lebanon did not prevent the March 14 camp from taking part in the new government.

He said: “We called for partnership from the start and we did not alter this position, but what is left of the March 14 camp rejected this partnership … They eliminated themselves from the new government and they have to assume the responsibility of their choice and not hold the new majority accountable for it.”

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