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Hoff Discusses Israeli Withdrawal from Ghajar with Qahwaji during Two-Day Visit to Beirut

U.S. Special Middle East Peace Envoy's assistant, Frederick Hoff, paid a two-day visit to Beirut earlier this week, revealed a political source to Akhbar al-Yawm on Wednesday.

A source from the U.S. Embassy told the news agency that his visit was aimed at discussing the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701.

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UNIFIL Says Not Notified about Italy’s Plan to Cut Troops in Lebanon

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon said Wednesday that it hasn’t been informed by Italy about its intention to reduce the number of its troops in the south.

“UNIFIL hasn’t been officially notified about Italy’s intention to downsize its troops,” UNIFIL Spokesman Neeraj Singh told Akhbar al-Yawm agency.

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Italy Seeking to Reduce Troops in Lebanon

Italy wants to reduce its military deployment in Lebanon and Afghanistan and to end its presence in Kosovo following major budget cuts, Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said.

"There are some budget requirements that are pushing us to reduce, as expected, our presence in international military missions," La Russa said Wednesday, adding that Italy would act in accordance with its foreign partners.

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Two Israeli Tanks Enter Disputed Area with Lebanon

Two Israeli tanks briefly entered a disputed border area with Lebanon on Thursday after the alert was sounded over people apparently picking herbs in the volatile zone, a Lebanese army spokesman said.

"The Merkava tanks entered a zone claimed by Lebanon," the spokesman told Agence France Presse.

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UNIFIL Denies Friction with Houla Residents

UNIFIL spokesman Neeraj Singh denied media reports about a friction between a UNIFIL patrol and the residents of the southern town of Houla on March 26, the National News Agency reported Monday.

“The reports are untrue,” NNA quoted Singh as saying. “UNIFIL stresses that such a friction between any of its patrols and the Houla residents hasn’t taken place.”

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Shami to Ban: International Resolutions Call for Demarcating Security Line in Lebanon’s Regional Waters

Caretaker Foreign Minister Ali Shami requested on Friday from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that a “maritime security line similar to the Blue Line in southern Lebanon be demarcated in the country’s regional waters.”

He said in a letter to the U.N. official that the demarcation would fall under the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon’s role in designating the land border.

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Asarta: Major Challenges Lying Ahead, Permanent Peace is Possible

UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta said Friday that the Lebanese army and peacekeepers have been able to implement the essential articles of Security Council resolution 1701.

“However, there are a lot of things that we should do before saying that UNIFIL’s mission was successfully implemented,” Asarta said during a ceremony honoring members of the Indian contingent at its base in Nqar Kawkaba.

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Israel’s Pullout from Ghajar on Hold: We Won't Give Hizbullah Gifts

An Israeli official has said that a plan to withdraw from the Lebanese side of the occupied border village of Ghajar is now on hold due to recent changes in the region, including Lebanon.

"We don't want to give the Hizbullah government free gifts," the official in Jerusalem told Israel’s Ynet news website, hinting that for the time being the plan to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar has been frozen.

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Army Investigates Blast at a Garage in Tayr Felsay

The Lebanese army cordoned off a house in the southern town of Tayr Felsay after a suspicious blast at its garage on Saturday, the National News Agency said.

In cooperation with UNIFIL, the army found two power generators and a motorbike at the garage of the house owned by Rida Shalhoub, NNA said.

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Report: U.S. Warships Disrupt Lebanon’s Internet Services

The movement of U.S. warships in the Mediterranean sea has been disrupting Lebanon’s internet services in the past three weeks, An Nahar daily reported Saturday.

The newspaper said that the problems which began when former Premier Saad Hariri’s government collapsed are not the result of operations conducted by UNIFIL’s naval force.

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