Politics - (UPDATE)Cabinet concludes session, calls on army to keep away from polarizations
 

Wed 21/03/2012 22:51

NNA - 21/3/2012 - The Cabinet winded up its session on Wednesday approving the oil sector administrative body's project, a grant by the U.S. Embassy to equip the Internal Security Forces, and other things on its agenda.

The Cabinet met in a regular session at the Grand Serail, chaired by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, with 73 items on its agenda.

Opening up today's session, Premier Mikati asked the Cabinet to stand a minute of silence in mourning of the
late Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III.

"His absence [Pope Shenouda's] is a great loss and his stances were permanently supportive of Arab causes in general and the Palestinian cause in particular," Mikati said.

Speaking to media reporters prior to Cabinet session, Public Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said that the issue of renting power-generating boats shall not be proposed during today's session.

Following the session, Information Minister Walid Daouk relayed the cabinet's calls on the Lebanese Army to keep away from political polarizations.
----------------L.Y-R.H.

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Politics - Morabito at HORECA event: Italian Embassy always at businessmen's service
 

Wed 21/03/2012 20:25

NNA - 21/03/2012 - The Italian Ambassador in Lebanon, Giuseppe Morabito, took part yesterday in the inauguration ceremony of the HORECA Exhibition, the International Trade Show for the Hospitality & Foodservice Industry, held in Beirut (Biel, 20-23 March, from 4 to 9 PM).

The Ambassador, noting that the fair is witnessing also this year a significant high level Italian presence, explained that: "Italy has always had a strong presence within HORECA, due to the "excellence" level reached by Italian companies in the sectors of hospitality, catering and foodservice and to the worldwide recognition of Italian gastronomy".

He added that for 2012 Italian participation in Horeca is based on a variety of brands represented either by Italian companies or by Lebanese agents. It is also significant the institutional presence at the fair, thanks to the participation of the IMC - Mediterranean Institute of Certification and Olio del Libano.

Within HORECA, a special attention will be dedicated to Italy. In the presence of Ambassador Morabito, the 2012 edition of the Restaurant Guide "Conosci il tuo pasto" will be presented on Thursday afternoon to
the press and the wider public.

"Conosci il Tuo Pasto" is a project promoted by IMC under the patronage of the Italian Embassy, that involves restaurants and chefs who have chosen to use only local produce, crops from organic agriculture, and products with designations of origin or belonging to the Mediterranean tradition. Thanks to the certifications issued by the IMC, these products are fully "traceable", which means they are clear and transparent for the consumers. This year the Guide will include for the first time the first Lebanese restaurants that have achieved the prestigious certification, symbolized by a "cockerel".

On Friday, Ambassador Morabito will participate, together with the Minister of Agriculture Mr. Hussein Hajj Hassan, in the ceremony "HORECA 2012: National Competition for the best Olive Oil in Lebanon". The event is organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in cooperation with by IAMBari in the framework of the three-year project "Olio del Libano", funded by Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Italian Cooperation for a total 3,3 millions of Euros. The initiative aims to improve the Lebanese olive oil sector involving a large part of the national territory (11 Cazas) together with 54 cooperatives and around 3.500 beneficiaries.

The Italian Embassy in Beirut has its own stand in the Trade Show, in collaboration with the Italian Trade Commission, gathering all diverse manifestations of the Italian presence at HORECA. "Our stand - declared Ambassador Morabito - has a message to bring. We are in the Exhibition to tell to all the Lebanese and Italian businessmen that the Embassy is at their service, not only during the Fair, but in the everyday business routine, and it is acting in order to support, promote and enhance the quantity and quality of commercial ties between Italy and Lebanon".

To better pass this message, the Embassy stand will be used as an "ambassador" of Italian taste. Indeed, on Wednesday 21 March, from 7 to 9 PM, the Embassy is hosting a cocktail reception to make all the guests taste some products representing the best of "made in Italy".
 

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Politics - Cabinet convenes at Serail, with 73 items on agenda
 

Wed 21/03/2012 18:54

NNA - 21/3/2012 The Cabinet meets in a regular session at the Grand Serail, chaired by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, with 73 items on its agenda.

Opening up today's session, Premier Mikati asked the Cabinet to stand a minute of silence in mourning of the
late Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III.

"His absence [Pope Shenouda's] is a great loss and his stances were permanently supportive of Arab causes in general and the Palestinian cause in particular," Mikati said.

Speaking to media reporters prior to Cabinet session, Public Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said that the issue of renting power-generating boats shall not be proposed during today's session.
----------------L.Y

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Politics - Georgian PM arrives in Beirut
 

Wed 21/03/2012 18:45

NNA - 21/3/2012 - Prime Minister of Georgia, Nika Gilauri, arrived on Wednesday in Beirut, where he is scheduled to meet with the Lebanese top officials over the means to bolster bilateral ties.
 

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Politics - Bassil: Country faces high-price fuel crisis
 

Wed 21/03/2012 18:10

NNA - 21/03/2012 - Energy and Water Minister Jibran Bassil said Wednesday the country was suffering a high-price fuel crisis that could be solved via resorting to gas as an alternative to the benzene substance.

"The country is suffering a high-price fuel crisis which needs a true treatment via resorting to public transportation and alternative fuel like gas, diesel and air-generated power." As such, he went on, the government must work as soon as possible to find such alternatives; otherwise, the situation was on the verge of collapse.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Siniora heads to Cairo to pay condolences on late Shenouda
 

Wed 21/03/2012 17:57

NNA - 21/03/2012 - Future Bloc Head Fouad Siniora left Beirut on Wednesday, heading to Cairo on top of a delegation, to pay condolences on the passing away of Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III.

The delegation is comprised of MPs Samir Jisr, Atef Majdalani, Hadi Hobeich, Nabil De Freij, Mohammad Hajjar, Jamal Jarrah, former Minister Tarek Mitri, Saad Hariri's office Director Nader Hariri, Mohammad Sammak and Daoud Sayegh.
P.BC.

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Politics - Charbel says he'll visit Roumieh prison on Saturday
 

Wed 21/03/2012 17:54

NNA - 21/03/2012 - Interior and Municipalities Minister Marwan Charbel said Wednesday he would visit the jail of Roumieh on Saturday to check the recent condition therein.

Charbel responded to those lambasting the Lebanese Army, by branding their attacks as political. He, accordingly, urged that politics be always aside from the security issue. "All Lebanese must be keen on the military institution that protects and represents them." He thereby recalled 1974 incidents when the army had been divided only to go into a long civil war period.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Attieh heads to Doha
 

Wed 21/03/2012 17:52

NNA - 21/3/2012 Qatari State Minister Abdel Rahman Ben Hamad Attieh left Beirut on Wednesday afternoon, heading to Doha.
 

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Politics - Maronite Patriarch returns from Cairo
 

Wed 21/03/2012 17:24

NNA - 21/3/2012 - The Maronite Patriarch, Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi, on Wednesday winded up a five-day pastoral visit in Cairo, and returned to Beirut aboard a private jet.

Minister of Tourism, Fadi Abboud, representing the Lebanese President, the Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Head of the Maronite Central Council, and a panel of bishops were at Rahi's reception at Rafik Hariri International Airport.

In response to a question about whether the impending meeting in Bkerki in April would be postponed on political backgrounds, the Patriarch said he had no information about such rescheduling, "but we are still waiting for the sub-committee reviewing the electoral law to finalize its work."

Turning to Syria, the Patriarch said he would visit this neighboring country for there are three Maronite dioceses therein.
 

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Politics - Qahwaji tours army units in Akkar, Ras Baalbeck
 

Wed 21/03/2012 16:41

NNA - 21/3/2012 - Lebanese Army Chief, General Jean Qahwaji, on Wednesday toured a number of military battalions and units in Akkar and Ras Baalbeck, and closely inspected field measures adopted to control borders and protect citizens' security.

The military commander did not fail to hail the sacrifices made by the army in defending national frontiers, curbing infiltration and smuggling operations, and protecting civil peace from terrorism, spying, and organized crimes networks.

"The strength of the army, not only does it lie within its strengths and weapons, but also within its holding onto national and military principles, regardless of the existing political juncture," he said.

He called the army for more readiness and utmost professionalism and objectivity.

Qahwaji also met with soldiers and military brass and gave necessary instructions.
 

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Politics - Hariri on Mother's Day: Achieve all rights for Lebanese mothers
 

Wed 21/03/2012 15:33

NNA - 21/3/2012 - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri expressed his sincere wishes to all mothers on the occasion of Mother's Day.

He said in a statement today: "I express my sincere wishes to all the Lebanese mothers, especially to the most beautiful ones: the martyrs' mother who gave what is the most precious to her for the defense of her country, the mother of the missing ones who is still waiting for their return, the mother of the oppressed ones who is seeking their dignity, and every mother struggling for a decent life for her children.

On this occasion, I reiterate my determination to continue to work in order to achieve all rights for Lebanese mothers, especially their ultimate right to give their nationality to their children.

I would also like to address the mother who is making the revolution in Syria, and anyone who has lost his mother in the uprising of the heroic Syrian People against injustice and tyranny; let's join hands for freedom and democracy that protect the rights of every man and woman. "
 

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Politics - Corruption tops Geagea's talks with LF doctors' department
 

Wed 21/03/2012 15:19

NNA - 21/3/2012 - Lebanese Forces' Samir Geagea Wednesday skimmed through general political affairs on top of which the corruptive atmosphere prevailing over the country, during his meeting at Maarab with a delegation of LF doctors' department.

"What I regret the most is the fact that the political party which had been repeatedly talking about corruption for over 20 years, has turned out to be the most corruptive camp in Lebanon's history, after it got assigned with key ministerial portfolios," Geagea said.

The Lebanese Forces Head raised before the public opinion clear and specific questions pertaining to the corruption accusation he dwelled on earlier.

The red diesel scandal, the electricity services tasked to some companies politically affiliated to the FPM, the power-generating boats pending topic which costs the treasury hundreds of millions, the Zahrani power plant shut down for 24 hours, and other electricity-related problems topped Geagea's list of interrogations.

Cell phone services relapse, Telecarte and Kalam prepaid phone cards stop for several months, as well as the country's partial paralysis through hindering the administrative appointments, were also topics of the LF leader's questioning.
D.K.

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Politics - Sleiman meets Mikati, others
 

Wed 21/03/2012 14:52

NNA - 21/3/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, on Wednesday met in Baabda with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, over the current general situation on the local domestic scene.

The pair also broached the 73-item agenda scheduled for this afternoon's cabinet session at the Grand Serail. Ministers are mainly expected to discuss the proposal by Interior Minister, Marwan Charbel, on the divisive issue of the right of the Lebanese women to pass their citizenship to their children.

The President later met with Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, with talks featuring high on the outcome of the latter's visit to Russia.

Mansour winded up yesterday a state visit in Moscow, where, along with Russia's top officials, he clinched accord over the yearlong crisis in Syria.

Francois Roux, the Head of the Defense Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), had also been to Baabda palace today, as part of meetings he is scheduled to hold with Lebanese officials ahead of the legal defense of the four men indicted by the STL over the 2005 killing of statesman Rafik Hariri.

Earlier today, the President received a delegation of the Maronite Central Council headed by former minister Wadih Khazen.

Sleiman later discussed the current financial and monetary situation with Lebanese Central Bank governor, Riad Salameh.

The pair also skimmed through the measures the Central Bank is taking to proof Lebanon's economy in light of international resolutions and tightened economic sanctions.

Among Baabda itinerants today, had also been the Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, Omar Barzanji, who tackled with the President bilateral ties and underway preparations for an impending Arab summit to be held in Bagdad on forthcoming March 29.

Sleiman lastly reviewed an array of projects executed by the Council for Development and Reconstruction, with the council's head, Nabil Jisr.
 

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Politics - Tashnag holds Conference on Turkish greed in Arab region
 

Wed 21/03/2012 14:30

NNA - 21/3/2012 - MP Farid Khazen participated Wednesday in a conference organized by the party Tachnag on "Turkish greed in the Arab Region", at Habtoor Grand Hotel, in presence of Deputies and ranking dignitaries.

Khazen focused on the Turkish foreign policy in light of the mutations in the Arab region.

"The Turkish foreign policy is based on a new interpretation of its stances in a deteriorating Arab world and an Islamic scene in crisis", he said, noting that the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country was able to reach zero problems with its surroundings without disregarding the main objective which is to be part of the European Union.

The MP said "the Syrian crisis in the region is a historical opportunity for Turkey to play a major role, yet it had invested in the collapse of the Syrian regime and was the first to welcome the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army, but it is now unable to interfere militarily or to ensure humanitarian passages."

"Intimidation has provoked Iran, Syria's ally, causing problems for Turkey with Iran, Russia, Syria and Israel," he added, concluding that Turkey had entered the Arab world through Syria and it will leave it via Syria as well.
D.K.

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Politics - Abou Faour, Watkins meet
 

Wed 21/03/2012 13:57

NNA - 21/3/2012 - Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour Tuesday met at his ministerial office with the UNDP representative Robert Watkins who confirmed that the meeting was an occasion to support UNDP bureaus spread across Lebanon, in cooperation with the Social Affairs Ministry.

"A meeting will be held in the next few weeks to execute this project and set certain work plans for facing the challenges which hamper the social development process in Lebanon," Watkins explained.

The pair discussed as well the conditions of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, tackling ways to support the higher commission for relief so as to provide for those displaced the minimum of their needs.

Also, Abou Faour received the Belgian Ambassador to Lebanon, Colette Taquet, with talks touching on the plan for fighting poverty.

Taquet praised the major role played by Minister Abou Faour on developing its Ministry and putting into action social projects.
D.K.

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Politics - Merehbi deplores Mansour's stances
 

Wed 21/03/2012 13:38

NNA - 21/3/2012 MP Mouin Merehbi Wednesday said Foreign Affairs Minister conveys a Syrian point of view rather than a Lebanese one.

"Disassociation policy does not exist," Future bloc member said and described Minister Adnan Mansour to be a Syrian Minister since he represents the Syrian point of view.

Speaking to Future News (Al-Akhbar) television channel, Merehbi wondered how Minister Adnan Mansour could support such criminals and support their unlimited practices.

On the topic of the Higher Relief Committee, Merehbi said he has been notified of the President and Premier's orders to carry out spending so as to cover hospitalization fees for refugees.
"Hindrances herein solely aimed at increasing wounded refugees' suffering," he remarked.

Pertaining to the issue of camps in Lebanon, the MP said such an issue ought to be handled carefully and concerned authorities inside Ain-El-Hewe camp should abide by the rules as they should considerate to the Lebanese people and preserve security in the country.
L.W.

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Politics - Daher: World not shouldering moral responsibility, human duty towards Syrian people
 

Wed 21/03/2012 13:02

MMA - 21/3/2012 - Future parliamentary bloc member Khaled Daher considered that the world is not shouldering its moral responsibility and human duty towards the Syrian people despite thousands of victims and detained Syrians resulted from the Syrian people revolution, call for freedom, dignity and democratic regime.

Daher remarks came in an interview to L'Orient radio station Wednesday. Responding to a question about Lebanon's laxity in aiding Syrian refugees, Daher said that the Lebanese cabinet did not act neutrally from the Syrian revolution as it claimed; pointing out that the cabinet's only concern was to serve and satisfy the Syrian regime.
Moreover, the Mp warned "the Syrian regime that announced its strategy of spreading chaos and instability in the neighbor countries as Syrian President Bachar Assad, Foreign Affairs Minister Walid Mouallem and Syrian regime's allies in Lebanon announced..."

Daher confirmed that "March 8 forces, through distributing wireless devices and weapons in south Lebanon and Bekaa, are trying to lessen pressure on the Syrian regime through creating unrest in Lebanon..."
Daher held March 8 Forces, mainly Hizbullah, responsibility of interfering in the regions' affairs and dealing with the state as if they are the state.
L.Y.R/A.B

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Politics - # Parliament approves reducing prison year sentence to 9 months
 

Wed 21/03/2012 11:10

NNA - 21/3/2012 - The Lebanese Parliament approved with 51 votes reducing the one year prison sentence to 9 months.
O.H

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Politics - Parliament resumes session
 

Wed 21/03/2012 10:59

NNA - 21/3/2012 - Parliament resumed at 10:30 a.m. today its session that had begun two weeks ago, in order to proceed with the study and ratification of items remaining on the agenda.

The transportation allowance project of both MPs Ibrahim Kanaan and Nabil De Freij's shall be tackled today in addition to reducing the prison year to 9 months.
L.W.

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Politics - Majdalani: Citizen's food safety more important than minister's prerogatives
 

Wed 21/03/2012 10:57

NNA - 21/3/2012 - Future Parliamentary bloc member MP Atef Majdalani told Voice of Lebanon that the food safety for citizens is more important than the prerogatives of the minister and this issue should not be politicized.

"Today, we discover again and more than any other time that the food security is not at all under control and this is due to the absence of clear measures to protect the citizens," the MP said.

The MP added that the responsibilities start from the moment the food products arrive to the port and customs check points. We consume a lot of food which comes from abroad as well as the food produced and grown in Lebanon.

"Growing vegetables and fruits, the use of pesticide and the work in the agro food industries also need to be reviewed."

The MP underlined the importance of testing all the imported food products and to assess the ways they store in them in warehouses.

Majdalani criticized Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan for refusing to give part of his ministry's powers to a proposed joint committee which should examine all imported food items.

"The government should send the food security bill to the parliament so it can be discussed and approved as soon as possible."
O.H

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Politics - De Freij hopes transportation project would be endorsed
 

Wed 21/03/2012 10:11

NNA - 21/3/2012 - MP Nabil De Freij Wednesday hoped the transportation allowance proposal would be endorsed during Parliament session.

"We have come to an agreement with MP Ibrahim Kanaan on the formula," Future bloc member said.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio, De Freij said the bill to reduce prison year to 9 months is being followed up by MP Sami Gemayel and his bloc.

L.W.

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Politics - Sleiman, Mikati meet
 

Wed 21/03/2012 09:03

NNA - 21/3/2012 Lebanese President Michel Sleiman is currently meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati at Baabda.
 

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Politics - Sleiman, Mikati meet
 

Wed 21/03/2012 09:03

NNA - 21/3/2012 Lebanese President Michel Sleiman is currently meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati at Baabda.
 

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Politics - Rahi meets Lebanese Diaspora in Alexandria
 

Tue 20/03/2012 21:44

NNA - 20/03/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rahi left early Tuesday for Alexandria where a crowd of the Lebanese Diaspora have received him in front of Saint Rita Church.

Rahi delivered a word saying, "Lebanon is our spiritual nation wherein we wrote our history and built with Muslims Lebanon's formula of social, national and political life."

Rahi said that as Maronites they must be a witness to Christian spititual values.

"We are called to preserve Lebanon's identity, national charter and democracy," he added
 

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Politics - Mansour winds up visit to Russia
 

Tue 20/03/2012 21:10

NNA - 20/03/2012 - Lebanon's Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour winded up on Tuesday his visit to Russia upon meeting with head of the International Relations Committee of the Duma Council, Alexandre Boshkov, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, at the Russian "Diyafa" Palace of Moscow.

During the meetings, Mansour discussed with the hosts bilateral relations and means of enhancing and activating them on all levels. Also, they discussed overall developments at the regional and international scenes.

Commenting on the Syrian crisis, Mansour said "Nobody is against reforms in Syria, but nobody must resort to force to accomplish his demands�What's going on in Syria is so dangerous that it will reach the whole region."

Lavrov, for his part, stressed that Moscow was ready to support the proposals of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan concerning Syria, hoping that the International Security Council would approve on these proposals which could alone solve the Syrian crisis.
 

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Politics - Mansour winds up visit to Russia
 

Tue 20/03/2012 20:43

NNA - 20/03/2012 - Lebanon's Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour winded up on Tuesday his visit to Russia upon meeting with head of the International Relations Committee of the Duma Council, Alexandre Boshkov, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, at the Russian "Diyafa" Palace of Moscow.

During the meetings, Mansour discussed with the hosts bilateral relations and means of enhancing and activating them on all levels. Also, they discussed overall developments at the regional and international scenes.

Commenting on the Syrian crisis, Mansour said "Nobody is against reforms in Syria, but nobody must resort to force to accomplish his demands�What's going on in Syria is so dangerous that it will reach the whole region."
 

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Politics - Hariri congratulates Gauck and Niinisto
 

Tue 20/03/2012 19:59

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri sent today a message to the new German President Joachim Gauck, and another to the new President of Finland Sauli Niinisto, and congratulated each of them on his election, a press release by Hariri's media office said on Tuesday.

It also said that Premier Hariri sent messages to the head of Egypt's ruling Military Council Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri as well as to Metropolitan Bakhomious, and expressed his condolences following the passing of Pope of Alexandria His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.
 

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Politics - Aoun links between those lambasting army and subversive cell
 

Tue 20/03/2012 19:35

NNA- 20/03/2012 - Deputy Michel Aoun said there was a link between the political group lambasting the Lebanese Army and the subversive cell recently discovered and that was aiming to target a number of the army's barracks across the country.

"Had it [political group] not felt involved in the case, it would have waited for investigations to finish," said Aoun.

His fresh stance came Tuesday in the context of a regular meeting for the Bloc of Reform and Change at his Rabieh residence.

Turning to the rotten food issue, Aoun slammed the Economy Ministry as totally absent in this concern.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Future: to speed up endorsement of food safety law
 

Tue 20/03/2012 19:04


NNA- 20/03/2012 - The Future Bloc urged the government to speed up the approval on a law draft pertaining to food safety, amidst the rotten food phenomenon hitting Lebanon.

The Bloc's regular meeting came Tuesday in the context of the Bloc's regular meeting at the Center House of Beirut.

The Bloc urged that the government adopt strict, necessary procedures to arrest and punish those responsible for the outspread of said phenomenon.

The Future offered Egypt condolences on the death of the Coptic Patriarch Alenba Shenouda, who, according to the Future, was a big loss to both Christians and Muslims.

The Future also offered condolences to the family victims of the students of Bhanin-Menieh School who passed away three days ago due to the fall of an earthen wall.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Mikati meets Roux, MP Fadel
 

Tue 20/03/2012 18:50

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Tuesday met with Francois Roux, the Head of the Defense Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) at the Grand Serail.

Roux arrived yesterday (Monday) in Beirut where he is scheduled to meet with Lebanese officials ahead of the legal defense of the four men indicted by the STL over the 2005 killing of statesman Rafik Hariri.

The Prime Minister later met with Member of Parliament Robert Fadel and a delegation of Tripoli Development Council.
 

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Politics - US Embassy: Cohen visits Mikati and Salameh
 

Tue 20/03/2012 18:41

NNA - 20/3/2012 In a press release by the US Embassy in Beirut, it said "U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen visited Lebanon today and met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Bank of Lebanon Governor Riad Salameh, and a number of representatives from the Lebanese banking community."
"This is Under Secretary Cohen's first visit to Lebanon," release added.

The release went on to say "In his meetings, Under Secretary Cohen discussed the steps Lebanon should take to ensure a transparent and well-regulated financial sector for Lebanon's continued prosperity. He also stressed the need for authorities to protect the Lebanese financial sector from potential attempts to evade U.S. and international financial sanctions. He reiterated the U.S. view that it is important to ensure that the current instability in Syria does not undermine the Lebanese financial sector."

"He renewed the commitment of the United States to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon," release concluded.
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Politics - Abu Faour ups calls to help Syrian "displaced"
 

Tue 20/03/2012 18:39

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Minister of Social Affairs, Wael Abu Faour, on Tuesday renewed calls to acknowledge the presence of Syrians in Lebanon especially that some of them are already registered in records in Tripoli, Bekaa, and Beirut, as well as before the Higher Relief Committee and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

"This is primarily a humanitarian and ethical cause that must be cast away from political polarizations," he said, pointing out the sharp rift existing in Lebanon vis-a-vis the year-old crisis in unrest-swept Syria.

"Regardless of all political stances, there is one true fact relevant to the increase in the number of Syrians present on the Lebanese territories," he said.

Minister Abu Faour made these remarks during the inauguration of a section particular to people with special needs at Rahma medical center in Tripoli.

He said that the government was following up on these Syrians' condition and that the cabinet had approved a decision on supporting the Higher Relief Committee. But he said that this decision was still circulating among administrative departments mainly at the Ministry of Finance.

"If funds were not transferred to the Higher Relief Committee, the Committee is bound to stop its aid on Thursday," he cautioned.
 

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Politics - Qertbawi meets with Egypt's Ambassador
 

Tue 20/03/2012 18:12

NNA - 20/3/2012 Justice Minister Shakeeb Qertbawi met at his Ministry office on Tuesday with Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammed Tawfic, who came on a protocol visit.
 

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Politics - Sleiman, interlocutors tackle current developments
 

Tue 20/03/2012 18:09

NNA - 20/3/2012 President of the Republic Michel Sleiman met respectively at Baabda Palace on Tuesday afternoon with MPs Boutros Hrab, Shanet Jenjian and Antoine Saad, with whom he tackled the current political developments.

Talks also reportedly touched on currently proposed project laws at the House of Parliament.
 

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Politics - Mikati skims through developments with interlocutors
 

Tue 20/03/2012 16:36

NNA - 20/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati held talks on Tuesday with visiting U.S. Treasury Under Secretary, David Cohen, who visited him in the company of U.S. Embassy Charge D'affaires, Richard Mills.

On a different level, and marking "Mayors' National Day", the Prime Minister vowed to follow up requests to grant mayors their full rights, and improve their professional status.

"I would like to seize this occasion to confirm our profound appreciation of your earnest work and devotion," the Prime Minister said in presence of Interior and Municipalities Minister, Marwan Charbel, Major General Ashraf Rifif, and concerned delegations.

Another delegation representing Free Professions' Syndicates also had its share of talks with the Prime Minister today over their most pressing demands.

Separately, the Prime Minister and his wife received from Patriarch Gregarious Laham III an invitation to attend the national family day, due to take place on May 13, 3012, at the Greek Catholic Patriarchate.

The Prime Minister had also been briefed on the preparations underway for the "Families International Day" which will be taking place in Milano, in presence of Pope Bendict XVI. An official delegation will be representing Lebanon on this occasion.

Among Mikati's other itinerants for today had been the Jordanian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ziad Majali, who paid Mikati a farewell visit upon winding up his diplomatic mission in Lebanon.

The Prime Minister later engaged in most recent developments with Political Affairs General Director at the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Mr. Perron Laval.
R.H.

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Politics - Berri follows up diplomatic, political affairs
 

Tue 20/03/2012 16:20

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, on Tuesday met with the Brazilian Ambassador to Lebanon, Paolo Da Fontoura, over the bilateral ties and the means to boost cooperation between both countries.

The meeting, held in Ain-el-Tineh, was also attended by former minister Talal Sahili from Amal Movement and Advisor Ali Hamdan.

Berri later met with former minister Abdullah Farhat, with talks featuring high on the last meeting of the Independent Christians Gathering in Harissa, especially pertaining to fresh campaigns leveled against the Maronite Patriarch, Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi, which the Gathering had sternly condemned.

Minister of Finance, Mohammad Safadi, had also been to Ain-el-Tineh today for a meeting with the Speaker over the current general situation and an array of economic and financial affairs.

Berri had met earlier today with former justice minister, Ibrahim Najjar.
 

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Politics - Syrian diplomat calls for firmer borders control
 

Tue 20/03/2012 16:10

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, on Tuesday said stricter control over the Lebanese northern borders is required with a view to better results as to the much-heated plight of weapons' smuggling into Syria.

The diplomat visited today former President Emile Lahoud for talks over most recent developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

But Ali hailed the efforts and ongoing coordination between the Lebanese party, government, presidency, and military, and the concerned sides, with regard to borders' control.

"We appreciate the efforts exerted by the Lebanese army and government in controlling borders," he said.

He also said that what Syria was exerting in facing armed thugs and extremist poles indeed helped beget better results namely on the level of the nation's stability and social security.

In response to a question about whether Syrian President Bashar Assad is to announce victory within days, the ambassador said Syria was scoring major success, starting with political reforms, the referendum on a new Constitution, and the impending elections in May. He explained that the components of such victory already existed.

He did not fail to remind that Syria was "fine" and more immune, despite all the efforts by Qatar and KSA to arm, gear up, and support the opposition.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Janjian lashes out on FPM
 

Tue 20/03/2012 15:42

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Lebanese Forces bloc member, MP Shant Janjian, lashed out Tuesday on the Free Patriotic Movement's members and it's head, MP Michel Aoun, saying that the only way to cover up his (Aoun) utter failure to apply all his reform promises was to launch haphazard campaigns against the Lebanese Forces and its leader Samir Geagea.

The Deputy said FPM's goal was to mislead the public opinion and deviate its attention from the awaited promises so as to attain electoral gains.

Pertaining to Deputy Naji Gharios' attack against Geagea, Janjian considered that Gharios has gone far in his criticism to reach a level of personal defamation.

"The LF is still holding on to the Lebanese cause and to the Christians' presence, emanating from its keenness on Bkirki's history and Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and freedom," he argued.

Janjian finally assured that these misleading campaigns would be fruitless as they would fail to tamper with the people's convictions.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Geagea meets Austrian, Iraqi Ambassadors
 

Tue 20/03/2012 15:39

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Lebanese Forces party Head, Samir Geagea, on Tuesday met with the Austrian Ambassador to Lebanon, Eva Maria Ziegler, who came on a farewell visit upon the end of her mission in Beirut.

Geagea also tackled with the Iraqi Ambassador Omar Barazanji latest local and regional developments as well as the ongoing preparations for the Arab summit to be held in Bagdad.
D.K.

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Politics - Merabi: Not receiving refugees major suffering
 

Tue 20/03/2012 15:37

NNA - 20/3/2012 MP Mouin Merehbi Tuesday said Higher Relief Committee renouncing to receive refugees is a major suffering.

Speaking to LBCI television channel, Merehbi said wounded were "tossed" in unequipped places due to their incapability to enter hospitals for the lack of financial covering.

This lack is due to the Financial Ministry's failure to transfer adequate funds to the Higher Relief Committee.
L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Series of discussions occupy Baabda scene
 

Tue 20/03/2012 15:34

NNA - 20/03/2012 - President of the Republic Michel Sleiman expressed hope on Tuesday that dialogue would remain the only adopted language between the nations of the world, for the peoples' best and happiness.

Marking the International Francophonie Day, the President also hoped that the Francophnie would consider expanding its circle of efforts, especially at the intellectual and artistic level, "so that it remains a civilization framework for all the cultures and religions of the world, to gather under."

"This will render it an example of inter-cultural dialogue, the same example that Lebanon offers to the world," the President said.

On a different level, the President held talks on Tuesday with a number of former Culture Ministers who visited him in Baabda and handed him a detailed report on the Roman Hippodrome in Beirut.

The Hippodrome is a historical site of great and unique importance, dating back to the days of the Roman and Byzantine eras.

The report which had been handed to the President by former Ministers Tarek Mitri, Tamam Salam, and Salim Wardeh, displays a keen desire to comprehensively preserve this marvelous ancient piece of history.

The former Culture Ministers, however, couldn't help but wonder why the current Culture Minister, Gabby Layyoun, did not stick to decisions which had been taken by previous Ministers, in this regard.

Separately, Sleiman skimmed through economic developments with former Minister Adnan Qassar. Both men also discussed means of aptly activating the economic sector.

"In light of the turbulent political situation in the Arab world, and in light of the economic crisis storming the most important economic hubs in the world, all are requested to join internal efforts (...) in a bid to fortify the Lebanese economy," Qassar said in a statement issued by his press office.

On a different note, Qassar wondered what was keeping the cabinet from finalizing the 2012 budget, saying he implored the President to intensify cabinet sessions for more budget-related discussions.

"I also discussed with the Minister a number of livelihood issues, most importantly touching on the spoiled food crisis," Qassar added, highlighting the importance of tightening security and punitive measures handling this matter.

The Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon, Jaun Carlos Gafo, also visited the President, in the company of a copy rights protection committee, to hand him a copy of a historic Arab Islamic- Christian book, which dates back to the period of shared Lebanese-Spanish history.

In turn, Sleiman highly praised this refined piece of work, saying it contributed to boosting cultural and religious dialogue.


R.H.

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Politics - Jumblatt cables Egyptian Ambassador
 

Tue 20/03/2012 14:06

NNA - 20/3/2012 Progressive Socialist Party head MP Walid Jumblatt Tuesday cabled the Egyptian Ambassador Mohammad Toufic and offered condolences on the passing away of Pope Shenouda III.
L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Zahra: Batroun hospital under threat of closure!
 

Tue 20/03/2012 14:05

NNA - 20/03/2012 - Member of Parliament Antoine Zahra said on Tuesday that Emile Bittar Hospital of Batroun was under the threat of closure, and that the Social Security Fund was going to run its affairs till the end of this month only.

"Despite an agreement with the Social Security Fund to hand this hospital over to whomever would like to run it from the private sector (...) no practical steps have been taken in this direction as yet," Zahra said.

The Member of Parliament held talks over the deteriorating situation of Batroun hospital on Tuesday with Public Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil.

"Now that [Batroun Hospital] is an indispensable need that can't afford any compromises, and that I have tackled the matter with the Health Minister, who expressed full willingness to cooperate with any fitting way out, I implore the Prime Minister to hold an urgent meeting (...) to find the most suitable solution," Zahra said in a statement he delivered at the House of Parliament.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Zahra: Other party shifting accusations
 

Tue 20/03/2012 13:19

NNA - 20/3/2012 - MP Antoine Zahra Tuesday said that the other party has shifted from accusing former governments of extra-budgetary spending to accusing a Lebanese political party, known for Islamic moderation, of extremism and terrorism.

Zahra told Al-Sharek radio that tensed verbal speeches denoted loosing choices the other party was making, especially those in support of the "Syrian tyrant and murderer regime."

On the topic of upcoming Cabinet session, Zahra ruled out the possibility of rising tensions for "all issues are normal."

He noted that the crisis of billions had been postponed, pending the government's breakdown of accounts.

The Lebanese Forces member concluded his speech by remarking that the spoiled food issue has proven the absence of government existence and regulatory institutions.
L.W.

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Politics - Mokbel bound for Cairo
 

Tue 20/03/2012 12:20

NNA - 20/03/2012 - Deputy Prime Minister Samir Mokbel left Beirut on Tuesday heading to Cairo to represent Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and House Speaker Nabih Berri at the funeral service of late Coptic Pope Shenouda III.
R.H.

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Politics - Harb: Spending dossier to be solved soon
 

Tue 20/03/2012 11:49

NNA - 20/3/2012 MP Boutros Harb Tuesday expected a near solution to the over-involved millions' issue, saying that folding the past page was of everybody's interest.

Speaking to the Voice of Lebanon radio, the MP counseled going back to the legal formula in order to head toward setting a future budget.

Tackling food safety dossier, Harb held government responsible and said it should go back to practice its tasks and efficiently handle this dossier.

He thus criticized the government's failure to control things and denounced incapability to spread its authority.

L.W.

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Politics - Nahhas: Mikati to find solutions for power generation
 

Tue 20/03/2012 11:30

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas Tuesday confirmed that Prime Minister Najib Mikati is discussing best means for more power production.

He told the Orient radio station that the spending issue was very crucial and that all country's factions agreed on the importance of addressing this matter appropriately.

"Legal and constitutional approaches have been almost settled, yet the technical and financial issues are still pending," Nahhas explained.
D.K.

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Politics - Doueihi: Christians not against conditional change and reform
 

Tue 20/03/2012 10:56

NNA - 20/3/2012 MP Estfan Doueihi Tuesday said we, Christians in Lebanon are not against change and reform as not against people's right to decide, through freedom and democracy, their fate.

The MP also said extremism does not convey democracy as "freedom cannot be established within chaos".

Doueihi's words came during his meeting in Australia with World Lebanese Cultural Union vice head Michel Doueihi.

On the Syrian situation, Doueihi said repercussions on Lebanon ought to be destructive especially on Christians in both countries.
"Situation is perilous and requires combined efforts," the MP said.

Doueihi received at his residence in Australia delegations of Zagharta town, Marada movement, and Kataeb in Sydney.

L.W.

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Politics - Mikati chairs series of Grand Serail meetings
 

Mon 19/03/2012 22:48

NNA - 19/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati presided at the Grand Serail on Monday a number ministerial meetings dwelling on public transport and means of financing power-generating ships.

The first meeting, which witnessed the attendance of Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi, Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi and Water and Energy Minister Gebran Bassil, had been devoted for discussions over proposals made to improve the conditions of public transport.

"It is high time we seriously address this issue because it concerns all the Lebanese alike," said Minister Aridi after the meeting.

But Aridi said that the hiking fuel prices could not be ignored, and that any decision to be made should take this issue into consideration.

"All the proposals forwarded by unions involved are being taken into consideration," he added.

Power generating ships topped the second Grand Serail meeting's talks, which had been chaired by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, in presence of Ministers Safadi and Bassil, as well as Environment Minister, Nazem Khoury.

"New ideas have been submitted and we will take them all into consideration, however, they require deep studies to estimate their cost," said Minister Khoury.

During the third meeting, Prime Minister Mikati, Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi, Public Health Minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, State Minister for Administrative Development, Mohammad Fneish, Water and Energy Minister, Gebran Bassil, and Trade and Economy, Nicolas Nahhas, discussed financial issues without any statement made thereafter.

Separately, Mikati had also received Monday the U.S. State Department Special Coordinator, Frederic Hof.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Laham, Sami Gemayel bound for Cairo
 

Mon 19/03/2012 21:38

NNA - 19/03/2012 - Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios Laham III and MP Sami Gemayel left Beirut on Monday evening heading to Cairo to partake in the funeral service of Copt Pope Shenouda III.
R.H.

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Politics - Kataeb disparages libel campaign targeting military institution
 

Mon 19/03/2012 21:30

NNA - 19/03/2012 - Kataeb political bureau vehemently condemned on Monday attempts to defame Lebanon's military institution, depicting it as a live embodiment of national unity, state sovereignty, and heroism.

Kataeb's stance came in response to those who clang to the arrest of two Salafite members functioning among the Lebanese army ranks as a bargaining chip to unleash a fire of words against the Lebanese military institution.

Kataeb highly evaluated "the accomplishments achieved by military and security apparatuses exposing a subversive cell functioning within army ranks and arresting mobs which have distorted Lebanon's foreign image."

Kataeb Political Bureau, which held its weekly meeting on Monday presided by Party Leader Amine Gemayel, also recounted the salient accomplishments of the Cedar Revolution.

"Marking its 7th anniversary, the Cedar Revolution has established a decision crossroads in Lebanon's new history; it achieved unprecedented national agreement over sovereignty and independence, the withdrawal of the Syrian Army, and the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon," conferees said as heaping praise on the movement's earnest endeavors to save Lebanon from attempts to abolish its free democratic regime.

As for the scandalous food security issue occupying the concerns of the Lebanese, Kataeb highly deplored this issue, saying it harmfully smeared the nation's reputation.

"We want a transparent investigation into this issue, which in decent countries usually leads to immediate dismissal [of ones in charge] as an act of respect to the people's will, who had been subject to this life threatening crisis."

A series of raids has recently taken place on warehouses and establishments around the country, uncovering tons of meat and other goods whose expiry dates have lapsed.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Bahraini opposition stages sit-in before Beirut UN headquarters
 

Mon 19/03/2012 19:29

NNA - 19/3/2012 - The Bahraini opposition on Monday staged a sit-in before the headquarters of the United Nations in Beirut, in objection to the Saudi intervention in the unrest-swept nation, calling the international community to bear its "historical" responsibility for such illegitimate interference.

Demonstrators, who termed the Saudi intervention as "blatant occupation," also dispatched a letter to UN Chief, Ban Ki-moon, hereby demanding the evacuation of Saudi forces from Bahrain, whose presence in the country flouts the UN Charter.

The opposition also urged to open serious investigation into Saudi violations, especially as to the demolition of mosques and houses of worship.

It also demanded that the dossier on Bahrain and breaches by the regime keeping forces against civilians be forwarded before the UN General Assembly.

"The United Nations ought to bear a major ethical, humanitarian, and historical responsibility vis-a-vis Bahrain," the letter read.

The UN was also asked herein to cease "the systematic violations" and to provide protection for the Bahraini people.

"The Saudi forces entered Bahrain under the guise of 'peninsular shields' without any legal justification, incompliantly with national sovereignty, and in a way that jeopardizes the future and generations of Bahrain, flouting international charters and norms," the letter said.

It is to note that Hala Al-Assaad from the Arab and Islamic Gathering to Support the Choice of the Resistance, Kuwaiti MP Abdul Hamid Deshti, Moroccan political activist Idriss Hani, Head of the Lebanese-German Union for Change and Reform Rafiq Hijazi, Bahraini politician Ibrahim Al-Madhoun, and a panel of politicians and jurists participated in the sit-in.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Jumblatt: only political solution toppling Assad saves Syria
 

Mon 19/03/2012 19:09

NNA - 19/03/2012 - Deputy Walid Jumblatt favored a political solution in Syria that would topple President Bashar Assad and put terms to Syrian crisis.

Jumblatt's stance came Monday in the context of his weekly editorial to Al-Anbaa newspaper. Jumblatt described the referendum on constitution as feign.

Jumblatt hailed Syrian people as well-committed to achieve victory and liberty. "The Syrian people will not retreat after their big sacrifices, and the regime's security condition would only exacerbate and complicate the situation."
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Mansour pursues visit to Moscow
 

Mon 19/03/2012 19:02

NNA - 19/3/2012 Within the framework of his visit to Moscow, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Adnan Mansour meets on Tuesday with his Russian Counbterpart Sergei Lavrov and Russian Duma Council Foreign Affairs Committee Head Alexi Boshkov.

Minister Mansour met on Monday with Russian National Council Secretary General Nikolai Patrushev, where they tackled the current situation in the Arab nation, Lebanon and Syria. Talks also touched on means of bolstering bilateral relations in the various fields, especially at the economic and touristic levels.

Mansour highly appreciated Russia's position regarding the crisis in Syria, describing this position as "positive, balanced and objective".

"The issue in Syria is neither a matter of reforms nor an opposition with certain demands... These matters are merely taken as justifications for settling accounts with Syria to end its role opposing Israeli hegemony in the Arab region and supportive of resistance movements," Mansour said.

Mansour also considered that Russia's credibility in the world is of a great value due to its permanent support for Arab causes and international resolutions, in addition to its condemnation of Israeli assaults throughout decades.

Mansour visited Lebanese Embassy headquarters in Moscow, and met with the Embassy staff.
----------------L.Y

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Politics - Economy committee convenes to discuss food problem
 

Mon 19/03/2012 19:02

NNA - 19/03/2012 - The Committee of National Economy, Trade, Industry and Planning convened Monday beforenoon at the House of Parliament, under the chairmanship of deputy Nabil De Freij, in presence of Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas and number of deputies.

The meeting aimed to discuss and look into the rotten food phenomenon. Attendees assured citizens that they would adopt the necessary procedures to put terms to such phenomenon via cooperation and coordination among concerned ministries.
A.M./P.BC.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Serra says seeking permanent cease-fire
 

Mon 19/03/2012 18:14

NNA - 19/3/2012 - UNIFIL Commander, General Paolo Serra, said he is seeking to secure a permanent cease-fire in the South, shortly after his meeting with Mufti of Tyre, Sheikh Medrar Habbal, on Monday.

Serra highlighted his commitment to working on preserving security and peace in the South, pursuant to UN resolution 1701.

He also heaped praise on the entrenched cooperation between the UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces, as well as between the southerners and peacekeepers.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Qahwaji meets Egyptian ambassador, Lebanese Democratic delegation
 

Mon 19/03/2012 18:01

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Lebanese Army Chief, General Jean Qahwaji, on Monday met with the Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Tawfiq, at his office in Yarze.

Qahwaji later met with a delegation of the World Lebanese Cultural Union.

A delegation of the Lebanese Democratic Party, headed by Walid Barakat, had also been to Yarze for a meeting with Qahwaji over most recent political developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

A statement by the party said that Barakat renewed his condemnation of the provocation campaigns against the Lebanese army and the bids to tamper with the credibility of the military institution.

Barakat also conveyed to Qahwaji the support and appreciation of the Party's Head, MP Talal Arslan, for the national and responsible role which the Lebanese army is assuming.

"Any tampering with the army amid the current stiff juncture in Lebanon and the region will definitely lead to execute the conspiracy aimed to sap national unity, spread constructive chaos, shake stability, and jeopardize the country," the statement quoted Barakat as saying.
 

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Politics - Berri receives Hof, others
 

Mon 19/03/2012 17:48

NNA - 19/03/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri received on Monday at his residence in Ain Tineh US Special Coordinator to the Middle East, Frederic Hof. Berri affirmed before the guest Lebanon's insistence on gaining benefit from its oil wealth in all the Economic Zone, "starting from Lebanon's rights and need for investing such wealth in accordance with a time schedule put by the Lebanese government in this concern."

Separately, Berri received former Agriculture Minister Elias Skaff and reviewed with him the general situation.

He later on met with Interior and Municipalities Minister Marwan Charbel.
 

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Politics - Daher spurns 'outbids' over army support
 

Mon 19/03/2012 17:25

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Khaled Daher on Monday sternly rebuffed any outbid over the support to the Lebanese army and the state institutions.

"We refuse that some take advantage of these institutions and that some 'Shabihas' from the Intelligence Department degrade innocent citizens, like Doctor Zakaria Hankir in Sidon (...) and spread news about the presence of a subversive cell within the army," he said.

Besides, he wondered at the visit of the Syrian ambassador to the Grand Mufti right after the massacre in Homs.

He said the Syrian regime indeed aimed to shake stability in Lebanon.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved






 

Politics - Khalil, Egyptian delegation meet
 

Mon 19/03/2012 16:39

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Minister of Public Health, Ali Hassan Khalil, on Monday ventured into the issue of the Egyptian field hospital set in Lebanon in 2006, with an Egyptian delegation.

The delegation comprised the Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Tawfiq, Advisor Karim Sadat, and a panel of seniro military officials.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Aoun meets National Understanding delegation, WLCU Head
 

Mon 19/03/2012 16:29


NNA - 19/3/2012 - Head of the Change and Reform Bloc, MP Michel Aoun, on Monday met in Rabieh with a delegation of the National Understanding Party (Al-Wifaq), headed by Bilal Taqieddine.

Talks reportedly tackled an array of local and regional affairs.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Taqieddine highlighted the obligation to support the Resistance.

Aoun had met earlier today with Head of the World Lebanese Cultural Union, Albert Matta, who presented Aoun with an invitation to participate in the ceremony the WLCU is holding on the occasion of the first anniversary of Beshara Rahi's election as the Maronite Patriarch.

Besides, the meeting reportedly touched on a spectrum of affairs relevant to expatriates, on top of which their participation in the legislative elections.
 

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Politics - UNIFIL marks 34th anniversary of presence in South Lebanon
 

Mon 19/03/2012 15:50

NNA - 19/3/2012 - The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Monday held a ceremony at the Mission headquarters to observe the 34th anniversary of its peacekeeping presence in southern Lebanon.

Peacekeepers representing the 37 different national contingents that make up UNIFIL participated in the ceremony. Attending were representatives from the Lebanese Armed and Security Forces, local authorities, community officials, as well as members of the international community.

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Paolo Serra and Brigadier-General Ghassan Salem, representing the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander laid wreaths at the UNIFIL cenotaph in memory of fallen peacekeepers.

In a speech on the occasion, Major-General Serra noted that whereas UNIFIL has been able to successfully achieve some key mandated objectives, challenges remain. "In the period ahead, my focus will be to assist the parties to maintain and solidify the cessation of hostilities and respect for resolution 1701, to work closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Government of Lebanon and relevant Lebanese institutions towards our common objectives and, to this end, mobilize joint efforts amongst the United Nations family to support initiatives within the scope of our mandate and area of operations," he said.

UNIFIL Force Commander expressed appreciation to the Lebanese Armed Forces who continue to be an excellent partner in the performance of the mission's duties. "UNIFIL remains committed to make progress on the strategic dialogue with a view to gradually enhancing the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces in the UNIFIL area of operations," he added.

UNIFIL was created by the UN Security Council resolutions 425 and 426 of 19 March 1978, to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area.

Following the July/August 2006 war, the Security Council, by its resolution 1701 of 11 August 2006, enhanced the Force and assigned it additional tasks working in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces in southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL currently comprises around 12,000 troops, supported by about 1,000 civilian international and local staff. This includes about 900 naval personnel of the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force deployed along the Lebanese coast.

Since 1978, 294 UNIFIL peacekeepers have lost their lives in the line of duty.
 

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Politics - Raad from Russian Embassy: Russia's stance on region's crisis gives hope to oppressed peoples
 

Mon 19/03/2012 15:48


NNA - 19/03/2012 - Deputy Muhammad Raad said Russia's stance towards the crisis in the East Mediterranean region resumed for the United Nations its good principles, consolidated balance at the International Security Council, and opened hopes for oppressed peoples to gain their rights and win justice.

Raad's fresh stance came on Monday as he headed a delegation of Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance bloc and visited the Russian Embassy, for congratulating the Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election as President of Russia.

"Alas there are regional and international powers that are still supporting armed groups in Syria, funding them and encouraging violence against civilians and the regime."

Raad hailed the Russian stance which favored stability at the Syrian arena on the basis of a political solution from which a dialogue between the regime and its opposition would spring.

The Russian ambassador, for his part, called upon the National Council to adopt a balanced decision with regard to the Syrian issue.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Sleiman sees Pope Shenouda's death Arab loss, follows up various affairs
 

Mon 19/03/2012 15:41

NNA - 19/3/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, on Monday contacted the Head of Egypt's ruling military council, Marshal Mohammad Hussein Tantawi, and paid condolences on the passing away of Pope Shenouda III.

"His absence amid the current juncture is a loss for Egypt and the Arab world," Sleiman said.

The Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox died Saturday at the age of 88.

The President tasked Deputy Prime Minister, Samir Moqbel, with paying condolences in his name and in the name of both the Prime Minister and House Speaker.

Separately, Sleiman met with Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Marwan Charbel, over the Arab Interior Ministers Conference, which was held in Tunisia last week.

Talks also touched on the current security situation in the country.

Member of Parliament Ahmed Fatfat had also been to Baabda palace Monday for talks with the President over most recent political developments and an array of development-related affairs relevant to Doniyeh region.

Sleiman later tackled the current security situation with the Director General of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), Major General Ashraf Rifi.

General Security Chief, Brigadier Abbas Ibrahim, also visited the President today, with talks featuring high on the measures taken so as to beef up control over air, maritime, and land crossing channels.

Sleiman later met with a delegation of Brazilian Petrobras Company, headed by its chairman Pedro Augusto, in presence of the Brazilian Ambassador to Lebanon.

Augusto told reporters following the meeting that his visit aimed to skim through the possibilities to assist Lebanon in the field of energy resources' exploration.

Among Baabda itinerants today had also been a delegation of the full-time teachers' league at the Lebanese University as well as the representative of the Shiite Supreme Council in Canada, Scholar Sayyed Nabil Abbas.
 

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Politics - Raad to March 14: Release swords off our backs before dialogue
 

Mon 19/03/2012 15:06

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, on Monday lashed out at the calls by March 14 forces for dialogue.

He said these forces were constantly launching political documents without receiving any response whatsoever.

"Let them take their swords off our backs before inviting us to sit for dialogue; let them prove their credibility and not their involvement in shaking stability and security," the Deputy said.

He made these remarks during a religious ceremony by Hezbollah in Zebdine village in the South.

"These forces cast doubt over everything. They doubt Hezbollah and its allies, the Lebanese national army, and justice, and they secretly seek for means to engage in dialogue with us," he said.

He also maintained that sectarian incitement wielded by the other camp, that is to say March 14 forces-led opposition, harmed the country, calling upon to them to reconsider their positions so that their call for dialogue is serious.
 

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Politics - Marouni: Dialogue to tackle weapons' issue
 

Mon 19/03/2012 14:28

NNA - 19/3/2012 MP Elie Marouni Monday said dialogue has been established to discuss weapons' issue and the defense strategy aims at determining their fate.

"The problem of Lebanon lies in Hezbollah's weapons, these militia weapons deployed on Lebanese territory," Marouni told al-Sharek radio and noted that the call for a conditional dialogue aborts it before its beginning.

"We do not need an Islamic-Christian dialogue but rather inter-Islamic and inter-Christian ones, before addressing the national dialogue issue," Marouni said.

"This dialogue is necessary due to political alignments in the country in light of prevailing schism between parties which ensures its own survival," Marouni said.

On the Syrian level, the MP hoped that Lebanese arena would be away from Syrian crisis repercussions.

"This is evident in kidnapping, murder and burglary operations. These incidents reflect a fragile security situation within the government's dissociation policy," he said noting that government did not refrain from defending the Syrian regime, regardless of the Arab, the international community and the Syrian people.
 

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Politics - Khoury met with Romania's Ambassador
 

Mon 19/03/2012 13:49

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Environment Minister Nazem Khoury met at his office in the Ministry Monday before noon with Romania Ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Tanase and discussed with him relations between the two countries and methods of strengthening them.

They also discussed means of cooperation in the environmental sector between Beirut and Bucharest as well as possibility of signing Environmental Cooperation protocol between the two countries.

The attendees also discussed coordination regarding "Rio + 20 summit" which will take place in Brazil in coming June and will deal with environment and sustainable development issues as well as fighting poverty.

L.Y.R/N.AF

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Politics - Finance Ministry: Merehbi accusations incorrect
 

Mon 19/03/2012 13:35

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Ministry of Finance responded Monday to MP Mouin Merehbi accusations regarding laxity in Syrian refugees' relief issue.

The Ministry confirmed that " the accusations of deputy Merehbi are completely incorrect and that minister Safadi had transferred to the Auditing Bureau on March 8 a draft to give Higher Relief Committee a fund of 3 billion Lebanese Pounds as a payment in advance according to decree number 7424 on 23/1/2012 to cover all living and medical needs for Syrian refugees.

The Ministry called upon "every one to be precise and sure of the information before giving irresponsible statements which do not serve the Syrian people and increase pressure on them.

It is to note that MP Mouin Merehbi accused Finance Ministry of not transferring funds to the Higher Relief Committee and criticized the disconnection between the Ministry and the Premiership.

L.Y.R/N.AF

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (corrected) Merehbi holds President, Premier responsible for Syrian refugees
 

Mon 19/03/2012 13:12

NNA - 19/3/2012 - MP Mouin Merehbi Monday said Lebanese President, Prime Minister, and concerned Ministers are responsible for the laxity in Syrian refugees' issue.

Speaking to Future News (Al-Akhbar) television channel, Merehbi said Finance Ministry is no longer transferring funds to the higher relief committee, criticizing the disconnection between the Ministry and the Premiership.

"Cease of medical cover as well as food aids is a kind of pressure exerted on the Syrian people," Future movement member said.

L.W.

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Politics - Habib: agreement on cabinets' financial expenditure determines participation in parliamentary session
 

Mon 19/03/2012 12:49

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Lebanese forces parliamentary bloc member Deputy Khoder Habib said," nobody can blackmail us (March 14), quorum and attending parliamentary Wednesday session is determined by agreement on cabinets' financial expenditure and using one standard."

Khodr remarks came during an interview with "Free Lebanon" radio station Monday in comment on whether March 14 deputies would attend the parliamentary session. He pointed out that "Aoun's (Deputy Michel Aoun) uncompromising position supported by Hizbullah is to cover his failure."

Khodr said that "Free Patriot" bloc is suffering from a grave confusion reflected every time deputy Michel Aoun loses his nerves one asked about the Syrian crisis.

Habib added "there is no need to arming the Syrian opposition," indicating the difference between arming opposition and the partitions that the Syrian army is witnessing.

The Deputy said," it is incorrect that the Christian and Drouz minorities in Syria are targeted."

L.Y.R/A.B

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Khoreis: unrest in Syria targets people, state
 

Mon 19/03/2012 12:39

NNA - 19/3/2012- "Liberation and Development" Parliamentary bloc member Ali Khoreis called for "a real complementary position regarding the unrest that spreads over the Arab region."

Khoreis remarks came during a memorial service in which he considered that the incidents in Syria does not target the Syrian President Bachar Al-Assad personally but also the Syrian people and state which supported the Resistance forces against occupation and opposition forces and all conspiracies that serve Jewish interests in the region.

On the other hand, Khoreis praised Pope Shnouda stances , pointing out that the Arab people need such a person who represent the real force of our people.

L.Y.R/N.AF
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Merehbi holds President, Premier responsible for Syrian refugees
 

Mon 19/03/2012 12:34

NNA - 19/3/2012 - MP Mouin Merehbi Monday said Lebanese President, Prime Minister, and concerned Ministers are responsible for the laxity in Syrian refugees' issue.

Speaking to Future News (Al-Akhbar) television channel, Merehbi said Finance Ministry is no longer transferring funds to the UNRWA, criticizing the disconnection between the Ministry and the Premiership.

"The seize of medical cover as well as food aids is a kind of pressure exerted on the Syrian people," Future movement member said.

L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved





 

Politics - Qadiri urges expatriates participation in 2013 elections
 

Mon 19/03/2012 12:20

NNA - 19/3/2012 - MP Ziad Qadiri Monday urged more efforts to help and encourage Lebanese expatriates in Brazil to register their names for 2013 elections.

"Cabinet endorsed 2008 electoral law gave expatriates the right to participate in the voting process whenever they be," Qadiri said.

Representing former Premier Saad Hariri in Rio De Janeiro on the occasion of the seventh commemoration of Rafic Hariri assassination, Qadiri met with the Lebanese Consul in Rio Ali Daher as well as a delegation of the Kataeb party.

Future bloc MP said the responsibility falls on the shoulders of Lebanese government as on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to conduct necessary executive procedures to ensure expatriates participation.
L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved






 

Politics - Rahi said threats against Christians involve Arabs
 

Mon 19/03/2012 11:54

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rahi Monday said in the globalization era when verbal threats target Christians all Arabs become involved.

"We are together, Christians and Muslims," Rahi said during his meeting with Head of Egypt's Coptic Catholic Patriarch Antonios Najib in Egypt.

Rahi said religious leaders' fundamental role is to bring together political points of view for "it is deemed necessary that they meet around their joint principle."

During his third day in Egypt, Rahi chaired yesterday a Mass celebrating Saint Joseph Day at the Egyptian Cathedral in presence of the Papal Nuncio Archishop Michael Fitzgerald and the Lebanese Ambassador Khalked Ziadeh.
L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Khazen supports punishing those responsible for foul food crisis
 

Mon 19/03/2012 11:41

NNA - 19/3/2012- Member of Parliament Farid Khazen said," the cabinet, in all concerned ministries, performs its duties fully regarding foul food issue," calling for putting legitimate and administrative basis to deal with these issues that affect citizens health and for punishing those responsible for such acts.

Khazen's remarks came in an interview with "Voice of Lebanon" Monday. He also confirmed the necessity of cooperation among all parties in this subject, stressing the need "not to cover-up for anyone" responsible for such acts.

Khazen said, " 'Reform and Change' bloc is ready in this frame to expose the names of those responsible of the nutrition file and any other file in compliance with the law."

L.Y.R/N.AF

NNA 2012 All rights reserved






 

Politics - Jisr: cabinet's help to Syrian refugees good step
 

Mon 19/03/2012 11:13

NNA - 19/3/2012- Member of Parliament Samir Jisr told "Voice of Lebanon- Voice of Freedom and Dignity", that the cabinet did a good step in performing its role in helping Syrian refugees.

On the other hand, Jisr explained that there is no difference in content between the two drafts presented by deputies Nabil De Freij and Ibrahim Kenaan to the parliament regarding the transportation and education allowances, pointing out that "there is no problem regarding the transportation allowance."

Jisr added that the main problem is in the education allowance and adding it to the end of service indemnities.

L.Y.R/N.AF
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved






 

Politics - Qortbawi: Spending dossier should be discussed in Cabinet
 

Mon 19/03/2012 10:47

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi Monday said spending dossier and break down of accounts ought to be tackled in the Cabinet on Wednesday.

Qortbawi reminded that the appointment mechanism of Higher Judiciary Council head during former Prime Minister Saad Hariri government consisted in proposing one name for this post instead of three.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio, Qortbawi voiced hope that the this dossier would be soon closed as it is unacceptable to have the council be without a president.
L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved



 

Politics - Araji: cabinet fails to deal with people's well-being
 

Mon 19/03/2012 10:40

NNA - 19/3/2012- Member of Parliament Assem Araji told "Voice of Lebanon" radio station that the Lebanese people well- being should stay away from political disagreements. But, unfortunately, the current cabinet" focuses on these agreements with other party trying to drag us to certain issues to cover its failure mainly in people's well-being," he added.

Araji considered that they might reach a certain settlement regarding transportation and educations allowances during the up-coming legislative session.

He pointed out that "all the parties that import foul food staff are protected and covered politically."
The cabinet has no control on prices and imported food staff," Araji said.

L.Y.R/N.AF

NNA 2012 All rights reserved






 

Politics - Safadi: Fiscal accounts solution project possibly on Cabinet's agenda upcoming Wednesday
 

Sun 18/03/2012 22:34

NNA - 18/3/2012 - Finance Minister, Mohamad Safadi, disclosed Sunday that he has completed his requirements with regards to the financial accounts issue. Hence, he referred to the possibility of proposing the solution project to said accounts on the Cabinet's work agenda for upcoming Wednesday.
In an interview to the Lebanese Forces Television (LFTV), Safadi refused working on any other solution project; considering that the government is actually in search of a political solution whilst his Ministry does not cater to such solutions. "I hope the issue would be solved soon. Moreover, the formula brought forward by the Finance Ministry denotes a temporary and quick solution," Safadi noted.
Over the expected visit by the American Treasury State Minister's Aid and its connection to international pressures on the Lebanese banking sector, Safadi stressed that the Lebanese government is committed to international laws in this respect. He added that he has personally met with the American Treasury several times thus far. "Our banking system is significant for its banking secrecy aspect; hence, as long as this factor exists, questions shall be raised and correct answers all always be available," Safadi indicated.
He continued to explain that the demand to lift banking secrecy is a worldwide request, and not just an American one, on basis that such secrecy provides no transparency. Safadi anticipated that said issue shall be the center of discussion and deliberation during the upcoming period.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Siniora heads to Abu Dhabi and Kabbara to Paris
 

Sun 18/03/2012 21:47

NNA - 18/3/2012 - Future Parliamentary Bloc Head, former PM Fuad Siniora, left Beirut Sunday heading to the United Arab Emirates Capital, Abu Dhabi.
In turn, Future Bloc Member, Deputy Mohamad Kabbara, also left Beirut Sunday heading to the French Capital, Paris.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mansour begins an official visit to Moscow
 

Sun 18/03/2012 21:42

NNA - 18/3/2012 - Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Adnan Mansour, left Beirut Sunday evening heading to the Russian Capital, Moscow, on a 3-day official visit.
Mansour will be meeting with his Russian counterpart, Segei Lavrov, and a number of other Russian officials. Talks are expected to center on the Middle East situation, especially on incidents in Syria, in the wake of Lavrov's recent meeting with Arab Foreign Ministers in Cairo.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Gemayel: Pope Shenouda's death is a huge loss to Egypt and the Arab World
 

Sun 18/03/2012 19:58

NNA - 18/3/2012 - Kataeb Party Head, President Amine Gemayel, sent a cable of condolences to the Egyptian people and Coptic Church Sunday for the passing away of Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria. Gemayel considered that the loss of Pope Shenouda is greatly felt by all in light of his great spiritual and intellectual value.
Gemayel described Pope Shenouda's death as a huge loss to Egypt and the Arab World. He hoped that the path towards enlightenment and dialogue between religious, in which the late Pope harbored strong belief, would be deeply-rooted. He also hoped that the civilized spiritual coexistence he always worked for would be further boosted and enhanced.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Al-Rai heads church mass marking St. Joseph Day in Egypt
 

Sun 18/03/2012 19:33

NNA - 19/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Bshara Butros Al-Rai stated Sunday that his parish visit to Cairo comes to express solidarity with the "Church" in Egypt, in all its Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical constituents. He added that his visit also comes in support of the Egyptian people in their struggle for peace and stability, and for the sake of pursuing their great historical role in the Arab World and the international community. He, thus, stressed solidarity with Egypt till it regains the beauty of its identity and its message of civilization.
Furthermore, Al-Rai expressed his sincere, deepest condolences to the Coptic Orthodox Church on the passing away of its head, Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria.
Al-Rai's words came in his religious sermon Sunday during the mass service he headed at Saint Joseph Cathedral in the Egyptian Capital, Cairo, marking the occasion of St. Joseph Day.
It is to note that Al-Rai had addressed a message of condolences to the Coptic Orthodox Church, in particular, and to the Egyptian people, in general, upon news of Pope Shenouda's passing away Saturday evening. Al-Rai expressed heartiest condolences on behalf of the Maronite Church and the Catholic Bishopric Council in Lebanon, and the Lebanese people as a whole, for the loss of such a great Pope who carried the church in his prayers, teachings and sacrifices throughout his lifetime, noted Al-Rai.
Al-Rai prayed for the soul of the late Pope Shenouda to rest in peace in God's heaven, after a lifetime of leading his church through wisdom and reckoning.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hashem calls for rallying around the Army
 

Sun 18/03/2012 19:11

NNA - 18/3/2012 - Member of the Development and Liberation Parliamentary Bloc, MP Kassem Hashem, considered that the hands of crime tampering with stability in Syria, through the explosions taking place there, actually reveal the true hidden cruel intentions of aggression targeting Syria. He added that this comes in line with the American - Zionist project that aims at keeping the region vulnerable to the American and Israeli will. "For this reason, whenever there seems in the horizon a possibility for Syria to overcome its crisis and escape the circle of danger, tampering hands of strife appear again in service of sabotage aims," said Hashem.
At the Lebanese scene, Hashem considered that the project of aggression is one, especially in targeting the Lebanese National Army and the country's stability. Hashem called, herein, for rallying around the Army since it is the sole guarantor of national unity and security. He also stressed the need to search for means of understanding and coming together between various constituents of society; while abandoning all words of tension that fail to serve the nation's path towards development and progress and meeting the people's daily living needs.
Hashem's words came during his visit to the region of Al-Arqoub in South Lebanon Sunday.
R.Sh.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mikati offers condolences to parents of killed students
 

Sun 18/03/2012 17:22

NNA - 18/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati contacted parents of all three students crushed to death by the fallen wall at Bhanin vocational training school. He offered them deep condolences and instructed head of the Higher Body of Relief Ibrahim Bashir to conduct intensive investigation pending the filing of a comprehensive report over the accident.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Aoun marking his war of liberation's 23rd anniversary
 

Sun 18/03/2012 16:52

NNA - 18/03/2012 - Former Army General Michel Aoun marked the 23rd anniversary of his 1989 war of Liberation against the Syrian Army and its local supporters.

Speaking at an annual dinner function to mark the occasion, former Army General Michel Aoun told supporters that they should not stand idle rather than act quickly and decisively for the purpose of nation-building. He warned them against attempts to bring down the edifice of the state saying they must be stopped.

Aoun vowed to remain steadfast in the face of oppositionists justifying that his Trend would remain adamant in fighting the wrong side in pursuit of perfect justice.

Having finished with the liberation tasks Aoun urged supporters to focus all of their attention on nation-building. He made references to the present fiscal financial situation acknowledging that many hurdles standing in his way need to be negotiated and overcome.

He even went as far as saying that the present situation tends to be intolerable and that we could not continue like this.

He concluded that his Free Patriotic Movement would not stand at anything, would neither be impeded by anything and that it would stand up to its political adversaries no matter what the outcome would be.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Aridi: Kamal Jumblatt the embodiment of Arab nationalism, resistance
 

Sun 18/03/2012 16:35

NNA - 18/03/2012 - Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Ghazi Aridi, extolled the memory of the late Druze leader and Founder of the Socialist Party Kamal Jumblatt. He described him as the embodiment of Arab nationalism and resistance to occupation.

Marking the 31st anniversary of the assassination of Kamal Jumblatt, in presence of Druze religious dignitaries and politicians at Aramoun main auditorium hall, Minister Aridi described the slain leader as the most honorable among men in facing up to national and patriotic tasks and duties.

The Minister added that Kamal Jumblatt's significance emanates from his patriotism and nationalist stature which inspired us and continued to do so for the last 45 years. He attributed anti-occupation resistance to Kamal Jumblatt which he himself founded back in the 70s because for him, resisting the enemy camp was a matter of strategic option and conviction.

Referring to PSP leader Walid Jumblatt, Minister Aridi regarded him as the decisive factor in the Lebanese balance of forces which determines the outcome of majority formulas in the country. He went on to say that Walid stood by and continuous to champion rights all the way.

With reference to the Syrians, he accused the Asad regime without naming it of being part and parcel of the battle of the Mountain which it exploited to its own advantage in exercising its subsequent hegemony over the country.

Aridi also criticized weapons in certain hands when they are directed toward the inside describing them as perfectly illegitimate and contrary to any patriotic or national interest. He credited the PSP with advancing the most comprehensive research into national defensive strategy.

With reference to Hizbullah and Arslan, Aridi added that the PSP would be working for the best of relations with them on the paradigm of diversity of opinion. He criticized Russian Putin's backing of the Asad regime saying the Russian position proved totally erroneous from the very outset of the political unrest in Syria.

While expressing deep concern for the Syrian people, its security and stability, he reiterated full support for the revolution in the face of tyrannical Asad regime. He concluded that the twinning between Lebanon and liberty remains constant and that his party shall never accept any threat to such creativity no matter what discourse or justification are deployed.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - President Sleiman sorry for Shnouda's loss
 

Sun 18/03/2012 15:01

NNA - 18/03/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, expressed deep regret and sorrow at the loss of Egyptian Coptic leader Shnouda III.

Sleiman and in press release today, regarded the death of the Egyptian religious leader as a major loss not only for Egypt rather than the world at large.

He described him as a great figure characterized by openness and reaching out for world faith. The President praised the late Shnouda's patriotic anti-Israeli stances which cost him dearly in terms of his personal liberty and wellbeing. He added that the Arab world would surely miss the likes of Shnouda at this particularly dire juncture.

While offering deep condolences to the Coptic community and people of Egypt, Sleiman expressed whish that they proceed in the footsteps of the late religious leader by pursuing a path of dialogue and openness such that the Orient maintains a status of interfaith cultural peaceful coexistence and interactive space with the rest of humanity.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Future Bloc stands by Syrian revolt - Fatfat
 

Sun 18/03/2012 14:59

NNA - 18/03/2012 Future Bloc held a political meeting Sunday in Dinnyeh, north Lebanon, announcing its full support for the revolution of the Syrian people and asserting that a free Syria guarantees an autonomous and sovereign free Lebanon.

The Syrian revolt began a year ago, as citizens took to the streets rallying day and night for the ousting of President Bashar Assad. In Lebanon, the official stance focused on distancing the country from said events; however, the opposition stood firm by the Syrian people and backed their cause.

The Bloc meeting brought together Future officials, including MPs Qassem Abed al Aziz and Ahmad Fatfat.

"Our government...is busy defending the Syrian regime, forgetting its people," said Abed al Aziz, adding that the government has lost its humanity and conscience.

In his turn, Fatfat retaliated to claims by rival camp of March 8 that the opposition was partial towards the Syrian people. "We are proud to say we partisan of freedom, democracy and justice, and accuse them of being partial towards the thugs of Assad while claiming to remain detached from events."

Fatfat lauded the Syrian National Council's foreign policy towards neighboring Lebanon, aiming at acknowledging Lebanon as a free sovereign country, and finally demarcating the border.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Yazbek deplores calls for arming Syrian rebels
 

Sun 18/03/2012 14:33

NNA - 18/03/2012 - Leading Hizbullah figure and special Khamena'i representative to Lebanon, cleric Mohammad Yazbek, deplored calls by certain Arab Gulf States to arm anti-regime rebels in Syria.

Yazbek, who spoke at a Younin funeral ceremony in the Bekaa, challenged those same Arabs to arm Palestinian anti-occupation (moujahidin) which they never did during the last 60years.

Yazbek seized the occasion to deplore arbitrary explosions in Syria primarily targeting innocent civilians, women, children and old. He exclaimed as to whether such actions were good examples of Islam, democracy or nation-building?!
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Army above all suspicion - Zaaiter
 

Sun 18/03/2012 13:29

NNA - 18/03/2012 MP Ghazi Zaaiter condemned any attempt at the integrity of the Lebanese army, demanding the prosecution of any person who aimed at shaking national trust in the military institution.

The Baalbek Deputy spoke during an Amal Movement ceremony held in Khawam Hotel, Bekaa.

"This is not the first time that the army has come under skepticism," explained Zaaiter, "and those behind this stance...have ulterior motives."

According to the Deputy blurring the clean image of the army was a ploy for certain political figures to have free reign in north of the country, particularly in border regions.
R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Qabalan offers condolences to Asad and Egypt
 

Sun 18/03/2012 13:05

NNA - 18/03/2012 - Deputy Head of the Shiite Supreme Council Abdul Amir Qabalan has been in contact with Syrian President Bashar Asad over yesterday's twin explosions in Damascus where he expressed deep regret at the loss of innocent civilians.

The senior cleric perceived in the explosion an attempt targeting Syrian security while expressing at the same time confidence that Syrians would ultimately prevail.

Qabalan reiterated support for the regime saying it alone could bring about desired dialogue and reform. He prayed the Almighty One to preserve the regime against its enemies in order to defend Arab causes.

The senior Shiite cleric offered condolences to the Coptic Church and the Egyptian people at the passing away of Church Head Shnouda III. He saw in him a man of openness, wisdom and dialogue.

Qabalan added that Shnouda represented the embodiment of moderation far from extremism or fanaticism. He recalled how Shnouda championed the Palestinian just cause in quest of recovering all of legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Geagea offers condolences to Egyptian people
 

Sun 18/03/2012 11:25

NNA - 18/03/2012 Head of Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, consoled Sunday the people and leadership of Egypt on the grave loss of Pope Shenouda III.

Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, died Saturday aged 88 after 40 years spent leading Egypt's Christians.

The veteran politician called on Copts to follow the path of the late Pope by refusing any external interference in internal affairs and rejecting the stigma of being a minority among a predominantly Muslim country. Geagea asserted that Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, are brothers in one nation.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Al-Rai arrives in Egypt and meets with Moussa
 

Sat 17/03/2012 21:16

NNA - 17/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Bshara Butros Al-Rai arrived Saturday in the Egyptian Capital, Cairo, on a parish visit. Upon arrival, Al-Rai headed to Saint Joseph Cathedral pertaining to the Maronite Archdiocese, where he shared thanksgiving prayers with a crowd of believers, who welcomed him with roses and praising words.
Parish Head Bishop Francois Eid gave a word of welcome in honor of Al-Rai, hailing his visit to Cairo as an encouraging and enlightening gesture, in the wake of the events that have occurred in Egypt in the past period.
Al-Rai thanked his welcoming crowd for their warm reception, relaying the greetings of President of the Republic, General Michel Sleiman, and Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir. He also expressed the solidarity of the Lebanese people and Church with the Egyptian people in their efforts towards achieving true peace and a new beginning leading to a brighter future.
Al-Rai hoped that the world at large would witness peace and unity, and that the pain suffered by the Arabs would be pain of labor leading to a life of dignity, tranquility and democracy.
Al-Rai's second stop was at the Maronite Archdiocese Headquarters in Cairo, where he was welcomed by students and instructors at Saint Joseph School.
It is to note that Al-Rai met with former Arab League Secretary General, Amr Moussa, during his presence at the Maronite Archdiocese.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Anti and Pro-Assad Sit-Ins!
 

Sat 17/03/2012 17:40

NNA - 16/3/2012 - An anti-Assad sit-in involving a number of pro-Hariri and independent elements regarded highly critical of the Damascus regime staged a noisy demonstration in support of Syrian rebels in the face of heavy-handed Assad army crackdown in downtown Beirut today.
Protesters calling on Assad to step down expressed support for the Syrian Revolution as an act of freedom and justice. They brandished Syrian flags and pictures of the late Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt slain at the hands of Hafez Assad's henchmen in the Shuf Mountain back in 1976.
Taking the word Yara Nseyr of the Syrian National Council read a message from now jailed for years' Syrian anti-Assad militant Yaseen Saleh. She reiterated Syrian people's determination to press ahead with its revolution despite immense suffering up till all of its objectives are achieved.
Dyala Haydar; a Lebanese militant supporter saluted the rebels and declared a unity of blood between Syrians and Lebanese facing the common dictatorial enemy. She concluded that this is the least Lebanese supporters of the Syrian people's cause could do.
On the far side of the square pro-Assad supporters foisted Amal/Hizbullah banners along with Bashar Assad placards with army and security looking on.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hajj-Hassan: Arab Regimes Helping Zionism!
 

Sat 17/03/2012 17:11

NNA - 17/03/2012 - Agriculture minister Hussein Hajj-Hassan accused the Arab regimes of allaying Israeli worries and fears by threatening the very livelihood and wellbeing of Muslims and by conspiring to topple Assad's regime.

Speaking at a joint Hizbullah-Mahdi School development venture in Baalbek today, the minister unveiled a carved rock inscribed by eulogies in praise of slain party leader Abbas Mousawi who planted a pine tree in that location back in 1991.The fallen cleric and wives was murdered by the Israelis during a helicopter raid on his car on the 16th of February of 1994.

Partaking in Mousawi's commemoration were a number of local party leaders, municipal heads, the Mahdi school head-master and teachers.

In his word, minister Hajj-Hassan pledged to launch a reforestation campaign by Hizbullah development venture dubbed Jihad al-Bina' or Jihad Construction. Prospective project involving the planting of 40 million pine and fruit trees would eventually cover a wide range of the Baalbek flora and the Bekaa.
G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Daouk, Sabounjian and Mouqbel promote investments
 

Sat 17/03/2012 15:27

NNA - 17/03/2012 Minister of Information, Walid Daouk, Minister of Industry, Vrej Sabounjian, and Deputy Prime Minister, Samir Mouqbel, convened at the Grand Serail Saturday in a meeting for the ministerial committee charged with amending law number 360 on promoting investments in Lebanon, with resulting decrees to be forwarded to Cabinet for deliberation.

"Five decrees addressed the modifications needed to encourage investment and attract investors," revealed Mouqbel, who highlighted the need to update the decrees acted upon for the past ten years.

The modifications in question addressed the standards required of the investment project to benefit from the law as well as the geographical division of the areas benefiting from said investment.

The committee encouraged the active involvement of the information and technology sectors that also benefit from the provisions of the law. The decrees also specified the mechanisms and conditions for issuing licenses.

"We must give proper attention to the issue of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL)...so this institution can carry out its work and implement suggested decrees."

IDAL was established in 1994 by a decree from the Lebanese Council of Ministers to spearhead Lebanon's investment promotion efforts.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved















 

Politics - Baabda Palace Itinerants
 

Sat 17/03/2012 15:09

NNA - 17/03/2012 - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, praised expats for their achievements in host countries particularly in political and business areas.

The president's utterance came at the height of a visit by Renault Company regional commercial agent Carlos Ghosn and president of St. Joseph University Rene Shammousi. Shammousi informed the president about the establishment of a university Chair for Road Trafficking next semester.

Among itinerant Baabda Palace visitors for today have been Ibraheem Shamsuddeen, a former cabinet minister, head of the Syro-Lebanese Supreme Council Nasri Khouri, a delegation of Deir al-Ahmar municipal councils and outgoing Japanese ambassador Kiyoshi Shimokawa who came over on a farewell visit. The president conferred on him a National Cedar Citation of High Order in appreciation for his diplomatic services.

President Sleiman offered condolences to Miyeh vocational Training School for the crushing of four students under a collapsed school wall. He urged preventive measures under similar circumstances to avert similar future mishaps in schools all over the country.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved










 

Politics - Safadi calls for investigation in Bhanine School tragedy
 

Sat 17/03/2012 14:52

NNA - 17/03/2012 The death of three students due to collapse of a wall in a school in the northern Minyeh-Dinniyeh district outraged Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi, who demanded judicial and security apparatuses open a probe into the tragedy.

A wall crumpled in Bhanine school killing three students, Abdul Rahman al-Siddik, Osama Zreiqa, and Ahmed al-Rifai. Seven others were injured.

Concerned authorities must be held responsible, according to Safadi, who also demanded compensation for the grieving families.
R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Berri meets Mikati and Aridi, cables Kuwaiti Speaker
 

Sat 17/03/2012 14:37


NNA - 17/03/2012 House Speaker Nabih Berri met Saturday with PM Najib Mikati at the former's residence in Ayn Teeneh.

Public Works and Transportation Minister, Ghazi Aridi, also had an audience with Berri.

In other news, Berri cabled his Kuwaiti counterpart, Ahmad Saadoun, congratulating him on his recent election as Chairman of the Arab Parliamentary Union.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Siniora demands Sleiman, Mikati open investigation in Hankeer controversy
 

Sat 17/03/2012 14:31

NNA - 17/03/2012 Head of Future Bloc, Foad Siniora, insisted Saturday that Lebanese government carry out an extensive investigation into what happened with a Sidon doctor on the backdrop of alleged arms possession, expressing outrage at the whole situation upon emerging from the doctor's hospital room in Sidon.

Doctor Zakarya Hankeer was accused of acquiring artillery at his home, and was manhandled by security forces. However, the arms in question were later discovered to be historic collector items with no ammunition.

Former PM Siniora acknowledged that it was the right of the state to investigate the case; however, he sternly objected to the manner in which the good doctor was treated, and refused to accept such humiliation for any Lebanese citizen.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Grand Serail Itinerants Today
 

Sat 17/03/2012 13:47

NNA - 17/03/2012 - A delegation of visiting Arab parliamentarians from 9 nations headed by Nasser as-Sane' from Kuwait, reportedly discussed with P.M. Makati and Justice minister Qortbawi, relocating the "Arab Anti-Corruption Network for Righteousness" from Casa Blanca to Beirut. Minster Qortbawi would be heading the organization during its interim term.

A delegation of leading food importers headed by Arslan Sinno reassured the P.M. that food-importing consortia would do all they could to ensure consumer safety by forming joint supervisory bodies with the government by placing themselves at the disposal of the law. Sinno implored hotels and restaurants to join his trust in a bid to preserve public health and announced March 22 as a day of "National Nutrition".

Among itinerant Government Serail visitors today has been South African ambassador Schon Ben-Flent who explored with the P.M. venues for promoting bilateral trade transactions and, in the field of political cooperation. He urged his Lebanese interlocutors to quickly implement the just agreed-upon business exchange protocol.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hamadeh: Syrian revolution completes the Cedar Revolution
 

Sat 17/03/2012 13:38

NNA - 17/03/2012 MP Marwan Hamadeh said Saturday in an interview with Voice of Lebanon that the Syrian revolution complements the Cedar Revolution, as he called upon Hezbollah Chief to join the army and be part of the state.

The Syrian popular revolution began a year ago with citizens taking to the streets, demanding ousting of Bashar Assad and his regime which has reigned over the country for decades, starting with his father Hafez Assad.

"The Syrian regime has fallen," he said, criticizing the regime for systematically destroying the country and turning many Syrians into impoverished refugees.

"Syria is not composed of the Assad regime but the Syrian people who need aid as the world currently commits the crime of failing to assist a nation in danger ."

On the latest statements issued by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Deputy said that "without the atmosphere of freedom, he could not have weapons in his possession and could not have taken the consent of the political forces to continue his resistance."

As for dialogue on defense strategy, Hamadeh refused to share power between army, people and the resistance. "We ask [Nasrallah] to join the State no more no less."
R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved

 

Politics - Deputy Habeeb: Baseel on Iranian Payroll!
 

Sat 17/03/2012 13:09

NNA - 17/03/2012 Lebanese Forces' (LF) parliamentarian Fareed Habeeb accused Energy minister Jibran Baseel of being on regular monthly Iranian payroll.

Speaking out in defense of L.F. Commander Sameer Geagea who recently came under attack from Baseel, the deputy and in a press release today reiterated that the L.F. boss never took Gulf-state money rather than Michel Aoun and his son-in-law minister themselves being for long in the pay of Tehran. He added that the minister frequently benefited from Iranian grants and bonuses reflecting his utterly degrading corruption.

He challenged Aounist genuine representation of Lebanese Christians by recalling the internecine wars perpetrated by the general's army against fellow co-religionists and subsequent humiliation of the former patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir at the hands of Aounist supporters.

Habeeb accused Aoun and Baseel of covering up for Iranian designs by the Ayatollahs in Lebanon and of harboring Mossad agents in their midst as Chief Justices found out.
G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi commences pastoral visit to Egypt
 

Sat 17/03/2012 11:38

NNA - 17/03/2012 Maronite Patriarch told reporters seeing him off at Rafik Hariri International Airport Saturday morning that he is heading to Egypt on a pastoral and ecumenical visit, announcing the soon release of a general letter that would detail his actions and stances during his first year as Patriarch, and refusing to retaliate to his critics out of humility.

Controversy has shrouded Patriarch Beshara Rahi with the onset of the Syrian revolt one year ago, demanding ousting of Bashar Assad. Rahi's stances were interpreted as outward support for the Syrian regime under the pretext of safeguarding Christians of the Middle East.

Bkirky planned to clear any misinterpretations by issuing a general letter on March 25 that featured all events of the first Patriarchal year for Rahi.

Rahi did not arrange to meet with the grand imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb. However, he will convene with the Coptic and Catholic patriarchs, the Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria as well as the Lebanese community in Egypt.

R.Z.

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Politics - Cypriot FM leaves Beirut
 

Fri 16/03/2012 22:01

NNA - 16/03/2012 Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis left Beirut Friday evening after a two-day visit heading back to Cyprus.

Marcoullis met during her visit with a host of high-ranking Lebanese officials and focused on means to bolster bilateral ties between Lebanon and Cyprus.
R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi meets visitors
 

Fri 16/03/2012 21:46

NNA - 16/03/2012 A number of visitors met with Maronite Patriarch Friday afternoon at Bkirky, including superior general of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, Alvaro Rodriguez, and delegation from committee of Islamic-Christian dialogue.

In the evening, Patriarch Beshara Rahi presided over Cross procession in the church edifice.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sarkozy awards Salam Legion of Honor distinction
 

Fri 16/03/2012 21:00

NNA - 16/03/2012 President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, awarded Friday Lebanon's ambassador to the United Nations the French Legion of Honor officer rank distinction in appreciation of his diplomatic skills in leading the Lebanese permanent mission to the UN.

French ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, decorated Nawaf Salam during a celebration held at the former's residence in New York attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Also present were ambassadors of Security Council member countries, and members of the Lebanese and French missions.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Jumblatt supports Syrian revolution, Hmadeh accuses regime of assassination of PSP founder
 

Fri 16/03/2012 20:01

NNA - 16/03/2012 Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader Walid Jumblatt saluted Friday the martyrs of the Syrian revolution, hailing them as victors over a tyrant whose time is doomed to be short, during the 35th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Kamal Jublatt, held in Baakline, during which MP Marwan Hmadeh pointed a guilty finger towards Syrian regime for said murder.

Slain in 1977, the assassination of the Druze leader spurred massive massacres of Christians residing in the region, an act which MP Walid Jumblatt described as "ignorant, malicious and racist," during the unveiling of the statue commemorating martyrs of the PSP. In 2001 reconciliation between Christians and Druze was held in Mount Lebanon under patronage of former Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir.

Leading political figures were present at the ceremony, including MP Marwan Hmadeh who spoke for the families of martyrs. "The bullets of the malevolent Syrian regime killed Kamal Jumblatt," he said.
Earlier today, Jumblatt placed the Syrian rebels' flag on the grave of his father in his hometown of Mukhtara.

MP Jumblatt stressed the need for democratic dialogue among Lebanese factions, regardless of opposing viewpoints. He also revealed that the dispute with Hmadeh has been resolved and the metaphorical wound has healed.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mikati tasks Lebanese with new upbringing methods, tackles developments with itinerants
 

Fri 16/03/2012 19:59

NNA - 16/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Friday that Lebanon stood before an exigent task to build a new generation, far from disintegration and division.

He stressed before an audience of honor list students that all the Lebanese should join hands in rearing Lebanon's future youth on solid basis.

"This is how we build a future on grounds that guarantee no return to hostility every now and then," Mikati said during the celebration which had been held under his patronage.

The Prime Minister called on Lebanese families to nurture their children on the concepts of forgiveness and acceptance for others.

"They should also be brought up on balanced concepts," said Mikati, refusing the Lebanese future generation to learn to take sides and fuel conflicts. "A thing which shall only result in damage for all," he added.

In turn, Higher Learning and Education Minister, Hassan Diab, called for affluent investment in Lebanese youth.

"Their mindset is the best investment for guaranteeing future progress," he said.

At another level, the Prime Minister held a series of talks touching on most recent developments with a number of Grand Serail interlocutors on Friday.

Fatah Movement Central Committee member, Azzam Al-Ahmad, who met with Mikati in the company of the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Dabour, affirmed upon emerging that the subversive cell which had been caught among the Lebanese Army ranks, in no way belonged to the Palestinian movement.

Talks between Mikati and his visiting delegation also touched on Palestinian -Lebanese relations, with both sides emphasizing the importance of continued mutual coordination between both countries.

"We confirmed our respect to the Lebanese law and our commitment to the agreement we previously made with the Lebanese authorities, as well as the Palestinian Liberation Organization," he said, asserting an existing will by his movement to facilitate the work of Lebanese security apparatuses, dealing with refugee camps.

Separately, Mikati skimmed through local and regional developments with visiting Australian diplomat, Mrs. Linet Wood, who visited him in the company of the Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Lex Bartlem.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (UPDATE) Rahi, Marcoullis discuss bilateral ties
 

Fri 16/03/2012 19:43

NNA - 16/03/2012 Maronite Patriarch Rahi held Friday talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister on fortifying relations between Lebanon and Cyprus, particularly the Maronite communities in both countries.

Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis met with Patriarch Beshara Rahi on the back drop of a recent visit by the senior clergy man to Cyprus.

"An important part of our people composes of Maronite Cypriots, and we are proud to have them in Cyprus for almost 1200 years," said Marcoullis.

Rahi is scheduled to leave Beirut tomorrow heading to Egypt on a pastoral visit. He had earlier held a phone conversation with President Michel Sleiman.

The visiting Minister also met today with Minister of Culture, Gaby Layyoun, with talks featuring high on the bilateral ties between Lebanon and Cyprus in the field of culture.

The pair reportedly agreed to reactivate the two-pronged various agreements.

Marcoullis relayed to the Minister her country's wish to dispatch a mission from the Cypriot University with a view to joint work on the level of Tyre historical site.
R.Z.-R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Jumblatt from Baakline: for democratic dialogue regardless of rigid polemic
 

Fri 16/03/2012 19:32

NNA - 16/3/2012 "Progressive Socialist Party" Head Walid Jumblatt called for democratic dialogue no matter how rigid the political polemic is.

Deputy Jumblatt was speaking during a ceremony held in the town of Baakline on Friday, marking his father's 35th martyrdom commemoration and other martyrs.

Jumblatt saluted fallen martyrs of Baakline, Mount Lebanon and Syrian Arab Revolution, saying "The Syrian people remain... and tyrants' age is short".
-------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sami Gemayel: No state without unified history book
 

Fri 16/03/2012 19:07

NNA - 16/03/2012 - Deputy Sami Gemayel said there was no real state in Lebanon as long as the local academic body lacked a unified history book.

MP Gemayel's words came Friday in the context of a press seminar at the Catholic Media Center of Jal -el-Dib.

"As long as we don't have a unified book of history, we won't be able to build the society or the state as needed, or even create true national solidarity," said Gemayel.

The Deputy clarified his stance, saying that the people of the South must apprehend the suffering of Mount Lebanon caused by the Syrian custody between 1976 and 2005; and the people of Mount Lebanon in their turn must learn about the sufferings of the South, caused by Israel.

A history book restricting exclusively the title of resistance to certain faction, while depicting another national group as a militia could never be accepted, the Deputy added.

He wrapped up that by learning each other's troubles, citizens of different regions or political affiliations would come to sympathize with each other and accept themselves.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi, Marcoullis discuss bilateral ties
 

Fri 16/03/2012 19:07

NNA - 16/03/2012 Maronite Patriarch Rahi held Friday talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister on fortifying relations between Lebanon and Cyprus, particularly the Maronite communities in both countries.

Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis met with Patriarch Beshara Rahi on the back drop of a recent visit by the senior clergy man to Cyprus.

"An important part of our people composes of Maronite Cypriots, and we are proud to have them in Cyprus for almost 1200 years," said Marcoullis.

Rahi is scheduled to leave Beirut tomorrow heading to Egypt on a pastoral visit. He had ealier held a phone conversation with President Michel Sleiman.
R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman follows up political, electoral affairs with itinerants
 

Fri 16/03/2012 18:34

NNA - 16/3/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, on Friday met with MPs Riad Rahhal and Amine Wehbe, as well as former Deputy Faysal Daoud.

The meeting, held in Baabda presidential palace, reportedly tackled the current political situation.

Talks also touched on an array of developmental affairs relevant to a number of Lebanese regions.

Sleiman had met earlier with Fadi Younes and Mohammad Sobhi Yaghi, former candidates to the legislative elections in Baalbeck-Hermel district.

The meeting featured high on the proposal to adopt proportionality as the principle for the impending parliamentary elections.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Delegations visit kamal Jumblatt's tomb in Mukhatara on memorial
 

Fri 16/03/2012 18:09

NNA - 16/3/2012 Crowds of popular, party, religious and political delegations and dignitaries visited Friday the late leader Kamal Jumblatt's tomb, marking his 35th martyrdom commemoration.

Leading the huge march that moved from Mukhatara Palace towards Kamal Joumblatt's tomb on the occasion, have been Minister Nicholas Nahhas representing Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and "National Struggle" Front Head Walid Jumblatt, surrounded by his Wife Noura and his two sons Taymour and Aslan.

Partaking in the march have also been Bloc deputies and ministers, in addition to key PSP officials and local dignitaries.

After rehearsing Fatiha on the soul of the late leader, Jumblatt laid a red flower at his father's tomb and two other flowers at the tomb of martyrs Fawzi Chedid and Hafez Ghosaini.

Jumblatt said "Marking 35th martyrdom commemoration, it is day of forthrightness and honesty... It is a day of going back to principles... Long live free Syria."

Jumblatt also laid on his father's tomb the Syrian revolution flag.

The late leader Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated on March 16, 1977.
----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Delegations visit kamal Jumblatt's tomb in Mukhatara on memorial
 

Fri 16/03/2012 18:09

NNA - 16/3/2012 Crowds of popular, party, religious and political delegations and dignitaries visited Friday the late leader Kamal Jumblatt's tomb, marking his 35th martyrdom commemoration.

Leading the huge march that moved from Mukhatara Palace towards Kamal Joumblatt's tomb on the occasion, have been Minister Nicholas Nahhas representing Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and "National Struggle" Front Head Walid Jumblatt, surrounded by his Wife Noura and his two sons Taymour and Aslan.

Partaking in the march have also been Bloc deputies and ministers, in addition to key PSP officials and local dignitaries.

After rehearsing Fatiha on the soul of the late leader, Jumblatt laid a red flower at his father's tomb and two other flowers at the tomb of martyrs Fawzi Chedid and Hafez Ghosaini.

Jumblatt said "Marking 35th martyrdom commemoration, it is day of forthrightness and honesty... It is a day of going back to principles... Long live free Syria."

Jumblatt also laid on his father's tomb the Syrian revolution flag.

The late leader Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated on March 16, 1977.
----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Qahwaji tackles developments with U.S. Military Official
 

Fri 16/03/2012 17:57

NNA - 16/03/2012 - Lebanese Army Commander General, Jean Qahwaji held talks on Friday with visitng Deputy Director of Political-Military Affairs for the Middle East at the Joint Chiefs of Staff Brigadier General Guy T. Cosentino, accompanied by Defense Attache, Paul Ross.

Brigadier General Cosentino emphasized the strong and sustained military cooperation between the two countries as well as U.S. support for Lebanon's initiatives to implement its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.

Qahwaji, also skimmed through most recent developments with former Minister, Elias Murr.

Yesterday, the Army Commander met with a delegation from "Fatah" Movement, headed by MP Azzam Ahmad, in the company of the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon, Mr. Ashraf Dabbour.

Conferees engaged in the current affairs of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved










 

Politics - Senior U.S. Military Official Visits Lebanon
 

Fri 16/03/2012 17:49

NNA - 16/03/2012 - Deputy Director of Political-Military Affairs for the Middle East at the Joint Chiefs of Staff Brigadier General Guy T. Cosentino visited Lebanon today and met with Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwagi and other senior military officials. This is Brigadier General Cosentino's first visit to Lebanon after having succeeded Brigadier General John W. Charlton who visited Lebanon in September 2011.

In his meetings, Brigadier General Cosentino emphasized the strong and sustained military cooperation between the two countries as well as U.S. support for Lebanon's initiatives to implement its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.

Brigadier General Cosentino renewed the United States' commitment to a stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon. He underscored the U.S. Military's support in strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces, recognizing its importance in serving as Lebanon's sole legitimate defense force to secure Lebanon's borders and defend the sovereignty and independence of the state.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved








 

Politics - Jumblatt receives phone calls on father's memorial
 

Fri 16/03/2012 17:19

NNA - 16/3/2012 Marking the late leader Kamal Jumblatt's martyrdom, Progressive Socialist Party Head Walid Jumblatt received a series of phone calls, notably from "Future" Movement Head Saad Hariri and "Lebanese Forces" Deputy Streeda Geagea.

The late Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt was assassinated on March 16, 1977.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


 

Politics - Lebanon will preserve natural resources - Osseiran
 

Fri 16/03/2012 16:20

NNA - 16/3/2012 - Member of Parliament, Ali Osseiran, said Lebanon will preserve its land and maritime borders and resources, in a statement on Friday.

"The Lebanese will not accept but to preserve their oil and water reserves especially that they are looking forward to a promising wealth, in favor of the entire [Lebanese] people," the statement read.

The Deputy did not fail to thank Cyprus, a key player and element of offshore oil resources issue, for its efforts to reach the expected solutions, especially that the United Nations fell short of endeavors to mitigate existing conflicts on that level.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Independent Christians lambast anti-Patriarch campaign
 

Fri 16/03/2012 15:43

NNA - 16/3/2012 - Fresh campaigns leveled against the Maronite Patriarch, Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi, drew the rebuke of the Independent Christians Gathering, which met Friday in Harissa.

A closing statement echoed the former ministers and deputies' belief that such rabid campaigns indeed aimed at implicating the Patriarch in belligerent fronts, with a view to eliminate his role as a national reference and arbitrator, and downplay Bkerki's symbolism.

The Gathering, that met with Patriarch Rahi late February, reminded of his "love and communion" motto, and called upon Christians in general and the Maronites in particular to gather round Bkekri, which they deemed as keen on pluralism and acceptance of others away from narrow considerations.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

 


Politics - Abboud meets "no smoking" program senior
 

Fri 16/03/2012 15:25

NNA - 16/03/2012 - Tourism Minister Fady Abboud received at his office the coordinator of the National Program for Smoking Prohibition in Public Places, Georges Saade, and discussed with him the method for preventing smoking in public places.

The minister placed a sticker at the Tourism Ministry that prohibited smoking, in presence of Saade, the ministry's director general Nada Sardouk and the Chief of Tourism Police Jean Gharib.
Abboud sympathized with the persons addicted to smoking but "these persons must not harm the others who don't smoke."
Any tourism institution owner not abiding by the law of smoking prohibition in public places would pay a L.L. 4-million amount penalty.
Abboud recalled the dangerous effect of smoking, urging citizens to quit smoking in order to preserve their health.

Separately, Abboud received a delegation of Jounieh International Festivals Committee, headed by Zeina Neemat Ifram.
A.M.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved







 

Politics - Daouk meets Swiss diplomat, Baalbaki
 

Fri 16/03/2012 15:05

NNA - 16/3/2012 - Minister of Information, Walid Daouk, on Friday met with the Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon, Ruth Flint, over an array of most recent developments.

The meeting was held at the Minister's office in Tele Liban headquarters.

Daouk had earlier met with Head of the Press Syndicate, Mohammad Baalbaki, on top of a delegation.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved





 

Politics - Sleiman: not any political cover for saboteurs
 

Fri 16/03/2012 14:40

NNA - 16/03/2012 - President of the Lebanese Republic, General Minchel Sleiman, said the military and security apparatuses would strike with an iron fist all saboteurs in the country, who not any political coverage would lead them away from punishment.


Sleiman's fresh stance came Friday upon his meeting at Baabda Presidential Palace the Priest Jean Faraj, who related to the president the kidnapping he was subjected to few days ago in Bekaa region.
"There is a national consensus over rejecting and condemning all such ill deeds which affect local stability," said Sleiman, who affirmed the necessity for military and security forces to duplicate efforts to catch hold of saboteurs, wherever found, and bring them to justice.
Separately, Sleiman received Former Deputy Prime Minister Elias Murr, who discussed with the host political developments on the interior and regional levels.

Afterwards, the President received Labor Minister Salim Jreissati, who discussed with the host ministerial affairs.

Amongst Baabda's visitors have been Priest Peter Azar and others.
A.M>

NNA 2012 All rights reserved











 

Politics - Rahi receives Cypriot official, will leave for Cairo
 

Fri 16/03/2012 14:09

NNA - 16/03/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rahi will be leaving for Cairo tomorrow Saturday on a pastoral visit that will last until March 21.
Rahi received Friday at Bkerki residence Cypriot's Foreign Minister and reviewed with her bilateral ties as well as overall developments at the local and regional scenes.

The Cypriot guest said, "We are proud of the Lebanese Maronites living in Cyprus." She added that her presence in Lebanon was to deepen the relations between both countries to become more fruitful.
A.M.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved



 

Politics - Aoun receives Cypriot Foreign Minister
 

Fri 16/03/2012 13:56

NNA - 16/03/2012 - Head of the Bloc of Reform and Change General Michel Aoun received on Friday at his residence in Rabieh Cypriot's Foreign Minister Erato-Kazakou Macoullis, with talks featuring high on bilateral relations as well as overall developments at the regional scene.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


 

Politics - Khreiss criticizes campaign against army
 

Fri 16/03/2012 12:25

NNA - 16/3/2012 - MP Ali Khreiss Friday criticized those who slander the Lebanese military institution which is the main protective pillar of the country.

Amal movement member said this institution safeguards Lebanon from internal sedition "as it defends our borders in face of the Israeli enemy."

MP's remarks came during an honorary ceremony Amal movement organized in Burj Rahhal for teachers in the region.
L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved



 

Politics - Cypriot Foreign Minister in Bkerki
 

Fri 16/03/2012 12:07

NNA - 16/3/2012 Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rahi at Bkerki is currently meeting with the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Erato Kozakou Markoullis, at Bkerki.

L.W.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Houry: Nasrallah's words illogical
 

Fri 16/03/2012 11:52

NNA - 16/3/2012 - MP Ammar Houry Friday depicted Hezbollah's Secretary General's stances as being far from the anticipated logic of dialogue.

Speaking to Al-Fajer radio, Houry said Nasrollah still justifies the internal use of weapons.
"No one wants to disarm Hezbollah by force," Future bloc member remarked.

Also, he urged the party to return to dialogue table as per the state's laws and Lebanese unanimity.
"Satelet domination over the state can no longer continue, he said.

On the topic of yesterday's legislative session, Houry said it was "productive" asserting each party's use of its rights within the democratic rules.

L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved








 

Politics - Gemayel meets with Cypriot foreign minister
 

Fri 16/03/2012 11:27

NNA - 16/3/2012 - Head of the Kataeb Party Amin Gemayel received at the headquarters of the party Foreign Minister of Cyprus Markos Kyprianou and the accompanying delegation.

After the meeting, Gemayel said that Cyprus can play a pivotal role in narrowing differences over the disputed economic zone to pave the way for oil and gas exploration.

Both sides underlined the importance of attracting investors and commence as soon as possible with oil exploration once the border dispute with Israel is solved.

Kyprianou said talks focused on the situation in the Middle East as well as the events taking place in some regional countries.

She hoped that the Lebanese-Turkish relations will not be at the expense of Cyprus.

The minister assured that Cyprus is doing its utmost to solve the dispute over the economic zone, adding that all sides are keen to demarcate this zone.
O.H

NNA 2012 All rights reserved










 

Politics - Jumblatt places Syrian revolution flag on his father's grave
 

Fri 16/03/2012 11:05

NNA - 16/3/2012 - Head of the Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblatt placed the flag of the Syrian revolution on the grave of his father Kamal Jumblatt in the 35th anniversary of his assassination in the presence of a number of ministers, MPs and prominent figures.
O.H

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Araji: March 8 and March 14 responsible for lack of parliamentary quorum
 

Fri 16/03/2012 10:43

NNA - 16/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Issam Araji told Voice of Lebanon "Voice of freedom and Dignity" that the lack of parliamentary quorum was also the responsibility of March 8 forces.

"The lack of quorum in the parliament also falls on the shoulders of March 8 MPs as well. Some of March 14 MPs left the session because of previous engagements," the MP explained.

He stressed that the transportation allowance proposal will eventually pass in the next parliamentary session.

The MP noticed that the last speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah concerning the Syrian crisis was toned down.

"Nasrallah's speech on the Syrian crisis was less tensed then before after he called on both sides to lay down arms and end killings and massacres."

He added that the Syrian regime is still procrastinating as his forces continues to subdue one Syrian town after another.


O.H

NNA 2012 All rights reserved











 

Politics - Nasrallah: Some regimes have interest not to fight poverty and illiteracy
 

Thu 15/03/2012 22:05

NNA - 15/3/2012 Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, highlighted the obligation to stamp out illiteracy in Lebanon, where the [illiteracy] ratio hangs about 16% of the population.
Nasrallah's words came during a ceremony Thursday organized by Nour Association to combat illiteracy.

He then noted that official statistics speak of nearly 57 million illiterate Arab citizens in countries enjoying huge financial capacities, sufficient to end unemployment and bring about a major evolution.

However, he said that some states and regimes have interest not to fight poverty and illiteracy.

He also lashed out at what he termed as "drugs' invasion of schools," saying that such item, along with unemployment and social security, is not a divisive dossier.

But Nasrallah said that other items were not a matter of agreement among the Lebanese, in reference to whether Israel is an enemy or not.

He went on to hit back at those who adamantly persist to lambast the Resistance weapons and link them to building the state and fighting administrative corruption.

"This is unrealistic. In fact, some parties are committed to the West and the Americans," he deemed.

Nasrallah also wondered at the ability of March 14 forces to build the state and its institutions, saying the state cannot be built by eliminating the other, but rather through dialogue and cooperation.

Accordingly, he said he was ready to skim through the national defense strategy. "This is the real logic through which we can build the state together."

On most recent developments on the Palestinian scene, Nasrallah deplored that some Lebanese media means, affiliated to parties that used to have good relations with Israel, held the Palestinian resistance accountable for the Israeli fierce attack on Gaza.

"Some even said that what is happening in Gaza was as per an Iranian decision to shrug off what is taking place in Syria," he said.

"This is sheer lie. What happened is that Israel started with an air raid, which caused the martyrdom of Zouhair Al-Qaissi," he explained.

On Syria's events, Nasrallah said the bet is on Syria's ability to overcome the crisis.

"When we speak about fears of division, we speak about facts (...) many calls are leveled today for federalism and division, in more than an Arab country," he said.

As renewing calls to relinquish arms and opt for the political solution in the unrest-swept nation, Nasrallah stressed that no one can neither topple the regime nor destroy Syria.

He made it clear that, "as Lebanese state and people, our interest lies within stability, calm, and security in Syria," and that the content of the political solution was a matter to be agreed upon by the Syrians themselves.

"We are the ones who draw the solution for Syria, but we, as neighbors, say to the Syrians that your security is as well ours and that we have one destiny," he said.
R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Lahham: to activate dialogue for peace to prevail in Syria
 

Thu 15/03/2012 20:40

NNA - 15/3/2012 Pope Benedictus XVI met on Thursday noon at his Vatican office with Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and the remaining East Gregorius III Lahham, where they tackled relevant ecclesiastical matters in addition to heated issues on the regional and international scenes, a statement by Greek Catholic Patriarchal Diwan said.

Patriarch Lahham conducted a European tour, winding it up in a visit to the apostolic chair and Italy. Lahham underlined during his meeting with his Beatitude the necessity of activating dialogue for peace to prevail in Syria and the Middle East, statement said.

"Peace is the sole guarantor which anchors mutual coexistence in this region loaded with developments and challenges," Lahham noted.

The Patriarch also indicated that the unity of Islamic-Islamic and Islamic-Christian Arab world constitutes a genuine aspired Arab spring.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Workshop on parliamentarians' role to fight corruption under Berri's patronage
 

Thu 15/03/2012 20:05

NNA - 15/3/2012 - The Arab Region Parliamentarians against Corruption (ARPAC) and the International Organization for Parliamentarians against Corruption on Thursday held a work session on parliamentarians' participation in supporting the implementation of the UN Convention on fighting corruption, under the patronage of House Speaker, Nabih Berri, represented by MP Michel Moussa, at Riviera Hotel.

Speaking on behalf of the Speaker, Moussa said that corruption is a global plight, but that it could be toned down or, on the contrary, exacerbated, depending on the control and monitoring tools and legislations in a given country.

He said that in Lebanon, corruption was spread on all different and various levels, shedding light on the obligation that the Parliament assumes an efficient role as to setting legislations and enhancing monitoring and control over the governmental work and public money.

The Deputy also drew a relation between improving the correctness of the parliamentary representation and the heading towards good governance, and fighting corruption.

"Democracy is not a sufficient condition to sound and healthy performance; indeed, it must be coupled with a well-entrenched culture of restraints and ethics which each parliamentarian ought to enjoy, in addition to transparency, integrity, and commitment," he said.

Moussa, who maintained that fighting corruption is at the core of the parliamentary work, stressed that quitting the game of political polarizations was a dire necessity to build the culture of combating corruption.

"Despite the current juncture sweeping the Arab region, the Lebanese Parliament is working prudently through its committees, bodies, and members, in a way that protects the internal scene amid neighboring unrest," he said.

The conference, also attended by representatives from Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, and Iraq, is scheduled to skim through the UN convention on fighting corruption, in the forthcoming days.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Siniora, Marcoullis meet
 

Thu 15/03/2012 20:00

NNA - 15/03/2012 - Head of Future Parliamentary bloc, Fouad Siniora, met on Thursday with Cypriot Foreign Minister, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, in presence of Cypriot Ambassador to
Lebanon Homer Mavromattis.

Discussions reportedly tackled signed agreements between the two countries. Conferees also boarded the general situation and current developments on the domestic and regional scenes.
 

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Politics - Leconte visits Syrian citizens in Tripoli
 

Thu 15/03/2012 18:53

NNA - 15/03/2012 - The French Senates Council member Jean-Yves Leconte winded up on Thursday his visit to Lebanon after checking on the condition of Syrian citizens in Lebanon who have fled the crisis in their country.

Leconte visited Tripoli's Governmental Hospital where he checked on the well-being of injured Syrians.

Leconte attacked the Syrian regime as becoming no more legal after the repression and cruelness practiced against its people. "France and Europe must press utmost efforts to bring regime members responsible for killings to an international criminal court."

Leconte recalled that France supported the Arab League's initiative to find an exit to the Syrian crisis.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Berri follows up fuel issue with Cypriot official
 

Thu 15/03/2012 18:01

NNA - 15/03/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri followed up on Thursday discussions with Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, concerning the oil exploration issue.

Marcoullis visited Berri at his residence in Ain Tineh and reviewed with him bilateral ties. "It is so important that Lebanon and Cyprus cooperate in the field of oil, so as to acquire the maximum extent of benefits in this concern," said Marcoullis.

The guest assured that Cyprus would work on enhancing cooperation between the European Union and Lebanon in upcoming July, when Cyprus would chair the European Union Council.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Bassil refuses fuel importers' demand for adding on additive fees
 

Thu 15/03/2012 16:49

NNA - 15/03/2012 - Minister of Energy and Water Jibran Bassil refused the demand of fuel importers and station owners to add on additive fees, that is increasing the benzene tank price to L.L. 5000 for the purpose of acquiring more benefits.

"I'm against increasing L.L. 1 on the tank because the citizen can no more bear more burdens concerning the issue."

However, Bassil showed sympathy to citterns' owners as "the ones who deserve a look into their condition."

Bassil reiterated his demand for resorting to gas or diesel as alternative to benzene so that the citizen would be able to save a L.L. 15,000 per tank.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Charbel says security situation in Lebanon composed, stable
 

Thu 15/03/2012 16:45

NNA - 15/3/2012 - Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Marwan Charbel, said that the security situation in Lebanon was stable and that the state was wielding all necessary efforts on all levels to keep the country aside from the repercussions of neighboring turmoil.

The Minister spoke today from Tunisia, shortly after meeting with the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister, Prince Ahmed Abdul Aziz, on the sidelines of the 29th session of the Arab Interior Ministers.

Talks reportedly featured high on the current political and security juncture and most recent developments on the Arab regional scene.

Charbel said that Lebanon was affected, whether positively or negatively, by the situation in Syria, hoping that a peaceful solution would be finally reached to the year-old crisis in this neighboring unrest-swept nation.

He said that the disassociation policy, which the Lebanese Mikati-led government has adopted vis-�-vis the region's developments, indeed proved efficiency "especially that Lebanon had for long suffered from the others meddling into the Lebanese internal affairs."

Charbel later met with the Secretary General of the Arab Interior Ministers Council, Mohammad Ben Ali Kuman, in presence of General Security Chief, Brigadier Abbas Ibrahim.
 

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Politics - (UPDATED) Berri adjourns parliamentary session until March 21
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:57

NNA - 15/03/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned on Thursday (14:30) the parliamentary session scheduled for today until March 21 due to the lack of legal quorum.

The lack was due to the attendance of only 64 deputies, whereas the required was 65. The session then failed to vote on the law proposal concerning reducing the jail year term for females to nine months.

Also, the approval on two law proposals, one pertaining to transportation fees and another to academic scholarships, was suspended.

Nevertheless, the parliamentary session was able to approve on the following proposals: allowing government to take up loans in foreign currencies; appointing the graduates of educational institutes in the cadre of the General Directorate of Vocational Education; and expanding the cadres of judicial and auditors department.
The government has been represented in the session by Prime Minister Najib Mikati; Deputy Prime Minister Samir Moqbel; and other ministers.

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Politics - Kahwaji, Guillaud skim through military affairs
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:40

NNA - 15/3/2012 - Lebanese Army Chief, Jean Kahwaji, on Thursday received his French counterpart, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, with talks featuring high on ways to reactivate French-Lebanese military cooperation, as well as on the mission of the French contingent operating within the UNIFIL.

Kahwaji had held the night before a dinner banquet in honor of Guillaud and the accompanying delegation, in presence of French Ambassador, Denis Pietton and ranking military officers

The Lebanese Army Chief praised the exceptional historical military ties which bond Lebanon and France's armies together, saying they emanate from joint human values in which both French and Lebanese people believe.
D.K.

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Politics - Marcoullis in Ain-el-Tineh
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:29

NNA - 15/3/2012 - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, and the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, are currently meeting in Ain-el-Tineh.
 

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Politics - Ghosn tackles Lebanese-Egyptian military cooperation
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:27

NNA - 15/3/2012 Defense Minister Thursday held talks about Lebanese-Egyptian military cooperation during his meeting with an Egyptian military delegation in presence of Ambassador Mohammed Toufic.

Both men also discussed reinforcing bilateral ties.
L.W.

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Politics - Marcoullis meets Sleiman, says Cypriot-Israeli ties never at Lebanon's expense
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:26

NNA - 15/3/2012 - Cypriot Foreign Minister, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, toured among Lebanese ranking officials Thursday, visiting Baabda Presidential Palace to meet with President Michel Sleiman, with whom she tackled means to reactivate Lebanese-Cypriot bonds.

Marcoullis informed Sleiman of her visit's main goals which basically sought steering the wheel of bilateral cooperation in the field of tourism, maritime rescue and energy.

The pair highlighted the importance of addressing pending issues pertaining to the maritime borders' topic and the pending fuel excavation works.

Marcoullis reassured President Sleiman that her country's ties with Israel would never be at the expense of its relation with Lebanon, hence with the entire Arab world.

She accordingly reiterated Cyprus' unyielding support for the Palestinian cause and its voting for Palestine for its membership in UNESCO.

On a different note, President Sleiman met with a French military delegation headed by Army Chief, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, in presence of French Ambassador Denis Pietton.

Conferees engaged in talks touching on bilateral military cooperation, as well as on the role played by the French contingent operating within the UNIFIL in South Lebanon.

Amongst Baabda's visitors was also a Palestinian delegation which conveyed to Sleiman a verbal message from the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, focusing on the current situation inside Palestine, mainly after the Israeli aggression against Gaza.

President Sleiman tackled later with Culture Minister Gaby Layoun the performance of the MoC as well as its overall cultural activities.

Eventually, Sleiman received former Justice Minister, Ibrahim Najjar, with whom he discussed judicial affairs.
D.K.

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Politics - (UPDATE) Watkins briefs Mansour on "Live Lebanon" project
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:22

NNA - 15/3/2012 UN acting Secretary General Robert Watkins Thursday briefed Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Adnan Mansour on the UNDP "Live Lebanon" project.

Watkins, along with the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Fares Salemeh, informed the Minister on the project's aim to reunite Lebanese expatriates and have them fund projects in Lebanese regions.

Launched in November 2009, Live Lebanon, a one-of-its-kind U.N. Development Program project, has sought to make the most of these links, channeling money from abroad to help development projects in Lebanon.

With a Diaspora community of millions, and one of the highest remittances rates in the world, Lebanon maintains strong ties to its expats.

Separately, Mansour met with his Cypriot counterpart Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, who assured that the presence of natural gas and fuel in the East Mediterranean region between Lebanon and Cyprus was so important, that both countries must cooperate to acquire benefits in this concern.

Marcoullis said that Cyprus would chair the European Union Council in upcoming July and would work on enhancing cooperation between Lebanon and EU.
L.W.-A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Aoun defends Assads' rule by all means, says Geagea
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:21

NNA - 15/03/2012 - Lebanese Forces Leader, Samir Geagea, blasted on Thursday MP Michel Aoun, saying he spared no effort to defend the 'Assads'.

"He would even go to further extents than the Assads themselves to defend their rule" Geagea told the Voice of Lebanon radio station, responding to the Free Patriotic Movement leader's address to a group of FPM youth yesterday.

"I support a democratic regime which is the choice of the people themselves," Geagea said.

The LF leader went on to lash out at Aoun's unwavering attempts at targeting his person.

"Nothing new in all the twisted facts that Aoun carries in attempts to defame the Lebanese Forces and its leader," he said as reminding of FPM's allegations that the Lebanese Forces were the perpetrators of mass graveyards.

As for Aoun's warnings from expanding "Salafite" phenomena, Geagea accused the FPM leader of delving into a Muslim Sunni eradication battle.

"He is trying to picture them as extremists, at the time that there is a lot of intellectual and moderate liberal Muslim Sunnis," Geagea added.

"Aoun's purpose is to picture the Future Movement as a fundamentalist trend, at the time that his Iranian allies, Hezbollah, are extremist, and don't even wear neck ties."

Touching on a subversive cell which had been discovered functioning within the Lebanese Army ranks, consisting of two soldiers who had planned to carry out attacks against the Army, Geagea suggested the disarmament of all factions functioning inside and outside Palestinian refugee camps.

"The Palestinian authorities have expressed a keen will to cooperate with the Lebanese government if it takes such measures," Geagea said.

But those who object to a decision as such are Syria, Hezbollah, and their allies, with General Aoun at the top of the list, added Geagea.

With regard to mounting fears over Christian existence amid Arab Spring developments, Geagea expressed hope that the Christians of Syria will prove to be stronger than those of Iraq, asking them to remain organized in their moves.

The LF leader hailed herein Bkerke's role, and that of its Patriarch in safeguarding Christians "despite varying political viewpoints."
R.H.

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Politics - Mikati, Marcoullis tackle Lebanese-Cypriot ties
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:18

NNA - 15/3/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Thursday received the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, accompanied by the Cypriot Ambassador to Lebanon Homer Mavromattis with talks mainly touching on bilateral cooperation.

The meeting was an occasion to skim through affairs related to cooperation between Lebanon and Cyprus, particularly in the field of energy, research, rescue, culture, tourism and trade.

The pair agreed on multiplying constructive efforts at the level of presidency, premiership and ministries so as to serve people's interests and establish prosperity and progress.

When asked about Cyprus' means to help Lebanon prevent Israel's violation for its fuel resources, Marcoullis said her country was keen on providing aid to Lebanon and committed to work hard for reaching an adequate solution to this issue the soonest possible.

Separately, Premier Mikati met with the French Army Chief, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, accompanied by the French Ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton, with talks touching on bilateral military cooperation.
D.K.

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Politics - Mufti announces formation of Palestinian People Aid Fund
 

Thu 15/03/2012 15:11
NNA - 15/3/2012 - Grand Mufti of the Lebanese Republic, Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, on Thursday announced the formation of a charity fund for the relief of the Palestinian people, aimed to provide to the Palestinians assistance on the educational, health, and living levels.

A decree issued by the Mufti also appointed Rafic Balaa as Head of the Trustees Board, Jamil Qaterji as vice Head, Wassim Mogharbel as Secretary General, and Sheikhs Zouhair Kebbi, Mohammad Abdul Rahman, Assem Jarrah, and Hossam Al-Ghali, as well as Moutaa Majzoub, Hassan Abu Zeid, Hosni Nahnahi, Imad Saeed and Issam Khashan as members.

On the other hand, the Mufti met today with a delegation of the Lebanese Democratic Party, headed by Walid Barakat, who said, following the meeting, that Dar-al-Fatwa is a major national reference which endeavors to enhance national unity.

The meeting also featured high on the ongoing Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza Strip.

A delegation of the World Philanthropic Association in Kuwait also visited Mufti Qabbani today, for talks over the aid the association is presenting to Syrians in North Lebanon.
 

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Politics - Berri adjourns parliamentary session until March 21
 

Thu 15/03/2012 14:52

NNA - 15/03/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned on Thursday (14:30) the parliamentary session scheduled for today until March 21 due to the lack of legal quorum.
 

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Politics - Hariri says March 14 should not fear challenges, will remain unified
 

Thu 15/03/2012 14:13

NNA - 15/03/2012 - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri issued the following statement on Thursday:

"Yesterday's March 14 celebration was an opportunity to hear the voices of the youth and the representatives of the civil society who achieved this historic day in the year 2005. I am confident that all those who attended the rally at BIEL or followed it on television, including the leaders and cadres of March 14 movement, felt great pride and overwhelming joy to belong to a political movement that is able to rejuvenate itself and listen to the views and aspirations of its public so that it remains as it was in the year 2005 the real starting point for its political work and the criteria for decision-making.

A political movement that gathers such brilliant young men and women who love Lebanon and believe in the values of freedom, democracy, justice and national dignity, should not fear challenges, and will always remain unified in its determination to reach to the united civil state which is sovereign over all its territory and its national decision, and to which all the Lebanese aspire.

I congratulate March14 movement on its young men and women and its supporters in the civil society. I congratulate Lebanon on the ability of its people to preserve the values of March 14, 2005 and to develop and renew these values, in defense of Lebanon's national interest, freedom, democracy and independence".
 

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Politics - Safadi, Taquet discuss avoiding fiscal duplicity
 

Thu 15/03/2012 14:11


NNA - 15/3/2012 - Finance Minister Muhammad Safadi Thursday received the Belgian Ambassador to Lebanon, Colette Taquet, with whom he tackled general economic and financial situations in both Europe and Lebanon.

Discussions also touched on the talks held between the two countries pertaining to the agreement to avoid fiscal duplicity and pay all the taxes on income and capital.
D.K.

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Politics - Mikati, Marcoullis tackle Lebanese-Cypriot ties
 

Thu 15/03/2012 14:07

NNA - 15/3/2012 - Prime Minister Najib on Thursday received the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, accompanied by the Cypriot Ambassador to Lebanon Homer Mavromattis with talks mainly touching on bilateral cooperation.

The meeting was an occasion to skim through affairs related to cooperation between Lebanon and Cyprus, particularly in the field of energy, research, rescue, culture, tourism and trade.

The pair agreed on multiplying constructive efforts at the level of presidency, premiership and ministries so as to serve people's interests and establish prosperity and progress.

When asked about Cyprus' means to help Lebanon prevent Israel's violation for its fuel resources, Marcoullis said her country was keen on providing aid to Lebanon and committed to work hard for reaching an adequate solution to this issue the soonest possible.

Separately, Premier Mikati met with the French Army Chief, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, accompanied by the French Ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton, with talks touching on bilateral military cooperation.
D.K.

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Politics - Rahi reports to Fatfat his comments on Syria
 

Thu 15/03/2012 14:05

NNA - 15/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rahi Thursday made clear that in his last interview with Reuters his stances separated the dictator regime in Syria from the Syrians who are "capable of being democratic people, ready for development and democracy."

Rahi's words came as a clarification following his meeting at Bkerke with MP Ahmad Fatfat who said that Rahi had always denounced crimes in Syria and hoped for further national solidarity.

"There should be a clear Christian standpoint on what Muslims and Christians are being subject to in Syria," Fatfat said.

At another level, Rahi convened with Mexico's Ambassador to Lebanon, Jorje Alfarez. Talks touched on the Patriarch's pastoral visit to Mexico aiming at enhancing ties between both countries.

"Arab world events, mainly Syrian ones, ought to be of the crowning topics Patriarch Rahi shall tackle during his visit to Mexico," the Ambassador remarked.

Among Bkerke visitors for today were also former MPs Gibran Tawk and Talal Merehbi, as well as head of the industrialists' association Neemeh Efram.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Watkins briefs Mansour on "Live Lebanon" project
 

Thu 15/03/2012 13:17

NNA - 15/3/2012 UN acting Secretary General Robert Watkins Thursday briefed Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Adnan Mansour on the UNDP "Live Lebanon" project.

Watkins, along with the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Fares Salemeh, informed the Minister on the project's aim to reunite Lebanese expatriates and have them fund projects in Lebanese regions.

Launched in November 2009, Live Lebanon, a one-of-its-kind U.N. Development Program project, has sought to make the most of these links, channeling money from abroad to help development projects in Lebanon.

With a Diaspora community of millions, and one of the highest remittances rates in the world, Lebanon maintains strong ties to its expats.
L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Zahraman blasts FPM, accuses it of failure
 

Thu 15/03/2012 13:10

NNA - 15/03/2012 - MP Khaled Zahraman slammed on Thursday the Aoun-lead Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), saying whatever national task it assumes, it always winds up proving to be a failure.

"It seems that the FPM has already launched its electoral campaign by means of wagering on the people's livelihood affairs," Zahraman said in an interview with "Future News", also accusing the FPM of misleading supporters with sham protection over their interests.

He said that the FPM's performance, ever since requesting money for its electricity plan, "has been reeking of (improper) deals."
"The Aounist Movement tries to delude people that it is the only existing honorable party in Lebanon, and that all the others are thieves."

Moreover, the MP stressed that the cabinet has got to display serious commitment to international sanctions if it seriously followed a dissociation policy.

"This is a cabinet of contradictions (...) we can spot huge contradictions at the elections and districts' interest level. We are well aware of the existence of files that could torpedo the cabinet, at its own table," he added, affirming that Syria's supporters were preventing any cabinet collapse scenario from happening.

At another level, Zahraman affirmed that March 14 shall prevail "at the time that March 8 had buried its 'thank you Syria' slogans back in 2005."

"The field is still ours and we shall make another appearance in 2013. We will prove to them our determination to persist and that the people are still striving for freedom and democracy."
R.H.

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Politics - Zahra: Aoun has gone beyond limits in defending Syria
 

Thu 15/03/2012 12:08


NNA - 15/3/2012 - Lebanese Forces bloc member, MP Antoine Zahra, said Deputy Michel Aoun has gone way far in defending the Syrian regime, hence showing solid and unquestionable relations with Syria.

"Does Aoun truly believe he can draw the Syrian people's future with his own hands?" Deputy Zahra asked in his talk with the Free Lebanon radio station.

Zahra deemed as abnormal the fact that Aoun had reached a certain level of self confidence that made him capable of deciding people's fate just to justify his own alliances.

The LF member indicated in this regard that Muslim brothers' seize of authority in Syria, in case the current regime collapsed, was hypothetical, adding that this Islamic society had not tampered by far with any regional or international commitments, neither had it spoke of implementing the Islamic Shariaa.

"On the contrary, they are seeking to develop themselves so as to meet the requirements of a modern state," Zahra explained, assuring that he was not defending Muslim brothers, but rather making clear to the public opinion that they were not "evil" as others claim.

As for the statement of Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rahi, touching on the Lebanese Forces party Head Samir Geagea, Zahra noted that "he who wants to be a real shepherd for everyone, shall not reply with such sarcasm or classify those who object to his stances as enemies."
D.K.

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Politics - Nahhas: To toughen spoiled meat merchants' punishment
 

Thu 15/03/2012 11:49

NNA - 15/3/2012 Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas Thursday said punishment on rotten meat merchants ought to be more severe by extending imprisonment year and cancelling extenuating circumstances.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon radio, Nahhas said numerous measures were yesterday adopted during Cabinet session so as to conclude this dossier and reassure citizens.

"Reinforcing human potentials before Ministries concerned in food safety through conducting a comprehensive survey on all food storage warehouses," the Minister remarked and stressed the importance that these warehouses be authorized.

"He who distributes any food products outside this frame ought to be prevented as per the law," Nahhas said.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Legislative session kicks off
 

Thu 15/03/2012 11:23

NNA - 15/3/2012 Legislative session started Thursday under the Presidency of House Speaker Nabih Berri and in presence of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and 72 MPs.

The public funds and controversial expenditures' issue were omitted from the session's agenda.
D.K.
 

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Politics - Legislative session kicks off
 

Thu 15/03/2012 11:21

NNA - 15/3/2012 Legislative session started Wednesday under the Presidency of House Speaker Nabih Berri and in presence of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and 72 MPs.

The public funds and controversial expenditures' issue were omitted from the session's agenda.
D.K.
 

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Politics - March 14 rally:Gemayel says Arab Spring bloomed by Cedar Revolution
 

Wed 14/03/2012 23:45

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Kataeb Party Leader Amine Gemayel on Wednesday said that the Arab Spring blossomed by the efforts of the Cedar Revolution back in 2005.

"All what matters is the human being. If he fails to fulfill his aspirations, it will prove that we have made wrong decisions," Gemayel said in a televised Speech marking the 7th anniversary of March 14.

On this occasion, Gemayel said that all what March 14 alliance cared for was to have people attain their full rights, "so that Arabs would stand at the forefront among those striving for truth, evolution and humanity."


R.H.

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Politics - Nahhas, Hajj Hassan disclose new food safety measures
 

Wed 14/03/2012 23:34

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Food security highlighted on Wednesday a Grand Serail Ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, in presence of Finance Minister, Mohammad Safadi, Agriculture Minister, Hussein Hajj Hassan, Justice Minister, Chakib Qortbawi, Trade and Economy Minister, Nicolas Nahhas, Industry Minister, Vreij Sabounjian, and Information Minister, Walid Daouk, as well as General Managers at relevant Ministries, and security network representatives.

A food safety crisis has recently surfaced in Lebanon as security forces, in cooperation with the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade and Economy, raided a number of depots containing huge stocks of expired food products.

After the meeting, Ministers Hajj Hassan and Nahhas held a joint press conference during which they announced new measures to ensure food safety for citizens.

Minister Nahhas seized the occasion to warn against the false text messages people had been receiving about a black list of restaurants that should be avoided.

For his part, the Agriculture Minister affirmed that the food safety issue was being profoundly discussed.

He also made mention of the decisions that resulted from the Ministerial meeting and which basically focused on strengthening ministerial capacities to follow-up this case.

One of the most important decisions is to have the owners of food warehouses obtain permits from competent authorities, the Minister added.

Specific standards and measures will also be imposed on imported foods and local products, and a media campaign will be launched in this framework to educate citizens.

Furthermore, Hajj Hassan made clear that eight people were arrested for sending the citizens a series of SMS defaming a number of local restaurants, saying that such messages have a dangerous impact on the economy.

Today's Grand Serail meeting on food safety also called on the judiciary to take strict measures in this regard and to protect Lebanese consumers.

Minister Hajj Hassan finally said that Prime Minister Najib Mikati called on those concerned to continue their clear-out operations against all suspected food depots, saying that financial, logistical, and human matters highly depended on this issue.
R.H.

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Politics - Lebanon attained international praise with dissociation policy: Sleiman
 

Wed 14/03/2012 23:02

NNA - 14/03/2012 - President of the Republic Michel Sleiman said on Wednesday that Lebanon has received international praise for its dissociation policy with regard to Syria-related affairs.

In an interview to the Daily Star, to be published on Thursday, the President expressed earnest concern for having stability prevail at the internal Syrian scene, paving the way for democracy.

"This is all up to the Syrian people and no one else," Sleiman said.

The president also added that the results of the constitutional referendum which had been held in Syria on February, 26, 2012, confirmed that Syrians opted for democracy.

Moreover, Sleiman rebuffed allegations saying that Lebanese parties were arming the Syrian opposition.

"Arms are being smuggled and sold for commercial purposes," he told The Daily Star.

As for the prickly situation at the Syrian-Lebanese borders, Sleiman reminded that most of the countries of the world suffered border problems, not just Lebanon.

"But we have to avoid having militants assemble at the Lebanese-Syrian borders."

Touching on the status of Syrians fleeing their country's unrest in Lebanon, Sleiman said Lebanon was committed to addressing the humanitarian needs of the Syrians in Lebanon, and to respecting human rights, as stated in the Lebanese constitution.

But the President also warned that any sane person would fear the ramifications of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, saying the Lebanese ought to learn how to protect their territory.

"To avoid a huge fire, we have to extinguish it," the President said.

As for illegitimate Palestinian arms in Lebanon, the President affirmed that they would only be consensually confiscated, ruling out attempts at forcefully taking them away.
R.H.

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Politics - March 14 rally: Siniora touts values, freedom, and justice
 

Wed 14/03/2012 22:15

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Future bloc Leader, Fouad Siniora, demanded a Lebanon that enjoyed values, freedom, openness, and justice.

In a televised speech marking the 7th anniversary of March 14 alliance at BIEL, Siniora said the Lebanon he dreamt of was that of "our ancestors" hoping that the Lebanon of tomorrow would be suitable for "our upcoming generations to live in and build their future."
R.H.

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Politics - Aoun pledges heightened corruption resistance
 

Wed 14/03/2012 21:40

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Reform and Change bloc leader , Michel Aoun, affirmed on Wednesday that reform has become a reality and not a mere slogan, vowing to step up anti-corruption resistance campaigns.

Aoun's words came in an address to a group of Free Patriotic Movement FPM youth at the Antonine Institute - Baabda.

"We shall keep imposing reform and resisting corruption (...) there is a lot of things that need to be done, and we are leading a good start," Aoun said.

The FPM leader also highlighted the importance of fully understanding the concepts of freedom, sovereignty, and independence as a means to build a unified and reassuring nation.

Touching on the battle-scarred Syrian scene, Aoun said those who had supported the 2006 Israeli aggression on Lebanon were the same people who supported an internal war in Syria.

"Aggression against Syria is being launched at an international level, and a lot of money has been paid for a cue against the regime," Aoun asserted, saying that Syria didn't suffer a mere internal crisis.

At another level, Aoun affirmed that all FPM's decisions were never cowed by pressure, and that all its choices were self-made. He also made clear that the Lebanese Army had never undergone disintegration. "I have turned down all interference attempts when Baabda was attacked back in 1990."
R.H.

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Politics - Bassil advocates democracy at regional level
 

Wed 14/03/2012 21:02

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Water and Energy Minister Gebran Bassil on Wednesday affirmed in an interview with Al-Rai newspaper that the Free Patriotic Movement supported democracy throughout the region.

Speaking at the sidelines of a dinner organized by the FPM representatives in Kuwait, currently hosting the "13th International Energy Forum", Bassil said that Lebanon was the founder of democracy.

"We are in favor of reform in any country, including Syria, our nearest neighbor," he said, noting that a reform draft was underway by Syria's lawmakers.
"If it is not applied, the current regime cannot prevail."

However, Bassil affirmed that the FPM's stances were not solely in the interest of Christians but rather more stemmed from a profound concern for minorities. He referred in this context to the paramount importance of supporting Christians in Syria.

On another level, and in light of inter-cabinet bickering over different issues, the Minister said that the regional situation affected the work of the government, its harmony, and cohesion.
R.H.

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Politics - March 14 rally: Makari opts for diversity vs. quantity
 

Wed 14/03/2012 19:57

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Deputy House Speaker, Farid Makari, said on Wednesday that the Lebanon of March 14 was that which resembled the Lebanese citizen himself, demanding a free Lebanon which promoted diversity rather than quantity.

"We aspire for a Lebanon that is open to all civilizations and cultures; an ambitious and creative Lebanon; a Lebanon flourishing and blooming with the love of joy and life; a Lebanon in which every Lebanese finds himself," MP Makari said in a televised speech addressing March 14 members and supporters, marking the 7th anniversary of March 14.

Makari also said that he was in search for a Lebanon in which people could plan their future and the future of their children, without having to worry. "Instead of wasting their time seeking another citizenship, fearing another civil war, or saying 'this nation is not ours'" Makari added.
R.H.

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Politics - March 14 rally: Geagea depicts his 'dream nation'
 

Wed 14/03/2012 19:32

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Lebanese Forces Leader, Samir Geagea, said on Wednesday that the future Lebanon he dreamt of was the potent, just, and authentic Lebanon.

"The Lebanon I dream of is that of construction, development, and abundance," Geagea said in a televised speech as addressing crowds of March 14 members and supporters at BEIL, marking March 14 alliance 7th anniversary.

He said Lebanon was in need of the strength that had been embodied in late Lebanese President, Bashir Gemyael; growth that had been witnessed at the hands of late Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri; and leadership like that of the days of late Druze leader, Kamal Jumblatt.

Geagea went on to dream of Lebanon, the nation of deep roots, justice, strength and originality; a Lebanon which resembles that of Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, and Imam Moussa Sadr.

"If we bring all this together, we get the Lebanon we dream of; it is the Lebanon of March 14 and the Lebanon of the Cedar Revolution. We will continue with this struggle until we attain all the goals of the cedar revolution and the Lebanon we aspire," Geagea concluded.


R.H.

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Politics - March 14 launches political document, read by Harb
 

Wed 14/03/2012 19:11

NNA - 13/03/2012 - March 14 Forces proclaimed on Wednesday at BIEL its political document, read out by Batroun Deputy Boutros Harb that pointed out the presence of grave dangers surrounding the country. The document stressed the necessity that efforts should focus on the re-building of the piers of a united state, the guarantor and protector of all the Lebanese.

"This can be achieved through placing all capabilities at the state's disposal," the document read, indicating that a genuine opportunity is now available to Lebanon to break the chain that has shackled its national life, and deprived it from its rights to stability and keeping pace with development.

The document considered that domestic peace is a condition for reinforcing the Lebanese liberal spirit and maintaining bonds amongst them, in addition to protecting Lebanon from the repercussions of the collapse of the Syrian regime.

The document also noted that peace is a condition for the building of the state governed by moderation, communication and peaceful power rotation. "Peace is a condition for the establishment of a genuine agreement between present Lebanon and upcoming Syria," the document uttered, in addition to the renewal of Lebanon's role in the uprising of the Arab East in terms of modernization and democracy.

The document called for restoring the prestige to the state in its capacity as the exclusive holder of the right to own and use arms, and for putting terms to any discrimination between those submitting to laws and others who are acting above laws.

The document also recommended the rebuilding of the state that respects human rights, a modern democratic civil state that guarantees the respect of confessional diversity on the basis of conformity between citizenship and diversity.

The document also called for implementing what has not yet been executed from the Taef Accord, starting with administrative decentralization.

The document concluded by urging all the Lebanese, without exceptions, to partake in the preparation for what the document termed as "peace uprising".

"Such an uprising extricates us from the miseries of the past and builds for a better future to all of us," the document wrapped up.
------------------L.Y, A.M

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Politics - Aoun follows up judicial, developmental affairs
 

Wed 14/03/2012 18:59

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Head of the Change and Reform Bloc, Michel Aoun, on Wednesday met with a delegation of Hwara-Doniyeh village, with talks featuring high on the restitution of confiscated and occupied lands in the locality.

The delegation reportedly demanded Aoun to wield efforts before the Lebanese competent state administrations in order to recuperate their rights from the Ministry for the Displaced.

Aoun later received at his residence in Rabieh a delegation of notaries.

Talks touched on an array of legal affairs.
 

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Politics - Siniora, diplomats tackle situation
 

Wed 14/03/2012 18:18

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Head of Future parliamentary bloc, Fouad Siniora, on Wednesday broached the current general situation with the Emirati Ambassador to Lebanon, Youssef Ossaimi.

The meeting, held at Siniora's office in Sadat Tower, also tackled latest developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

Separately, Siniora met with Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, Omar Barzanji, over the current general situation on the local scene.
 

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Politics - March 14 celebrates "Independence Uprising" 7th anniversary
 

Wed 14/03/2012 17:52

NNA - 14/3/2012 March 14 forces started their ceremony at BIEL in commemoration of Independence Uprising's 7th annual anniversary, during which a political document will be announced bearing on March 14 vision for the upcoming stage.

Scores of political, media and concerned dignitaries attended the ceremony, notably Kataeb Party Head Amine Gemayel, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Metropolitan Boulos Matar representing Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi.

Renowned media figure May Chidiac opened up today's ceremony by giving a speech in which she said that Cedar Revolution has not been impeded, considering that this uprising has succeeded in changing people's conscience.

"March 14 shall not succumb to blackmailing," Chidiac stressed, saying March 14 was free to hold its rallies whenever and however it deemed adequate.
L.Y
 

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Politics - Charbel: for boosting security in face of advanced saboteurs
 

Wed 14/03/2012 17:43

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Defense Minister Marwan Charbel urged the necessity for boosting security apparatuses in Arab countries, especially with the outspread of advanced saboteurs benefiting from high technologies to execute their bad deeds.

Charbel's words came Wednesday in the opening event of the 29th round of the Arab Interior Ministers Council that was held Wednesday afternoon at the Tourism Center hall of Tunisia.

"It is inevitable that we must support and promote security apparatuses by enhancing confidence and bond between the citizens and security members," said Charbel.

Charbel added that security stability was peoples' aspirations for accomplishing economic prosperity and satisfying public demands.

A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Berri sees judges must impugn expired food merchants
 

Wed 14/03/2012 17:05

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, said judges ought to follow up on the details of the much-heated expired food predicament, stressing the obligation to impugn the responsible merchants, establishments, and parties.

Berri chaired today Wednesday meeting at the Parliament and tackled with the Deputies the current general situation and the impending legislative session scheduled for tomorrow Thursday.

The Speaker, who said all forms of corruption in all fields and sectors must be reprimanded, shone light on the role of control bodies, competent authorities, and state institutions in fighting corruption.

Separately, he met today with Minister of Labor, Salim Jreissati, over an array of daily life matters.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hariri on March 14th: The Lebanese will not accept to have their Republic fall under any new form of tutelage
 

Wed 14/03/2012 16:53

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Wednesday the Lebanese would not accept their Republic to fall under a new form of custody. Hariri issued a statement on the seventh anniversary of Independence Uprising, which is the following:

When the large crowds of Lebanese people poured into Martyrs' Square on this same day seven years ago, none of the political leaders and movements had envisaged that March 14th would be a milestone in Lebanon's national life, and that the flags that waved in the square that day would draw a picture that could reoccur in many neighboring countries.

If some people consider this day as a popular reaction to the demonstration organized by a group of Lebanese to thank the Syrian regime on March 8th 2005, then the Lebanese national spirit which was formed on March 14th, makes this day an exceptional day in the modern history of Lebanon, that established the basis of an unprecedented popular unity, which ended an intelligence and security rule that dominated the Lebanese national decision for more than three decades.

March 14th, in this sense, does not belong to any group, movement or party, and is not just a traditional political movement, for it is too deep to be reduced to a political assembly. It is the date of the uprising of the second independence, against the security regime, and of the uprising of national unity against sectarian categorization.

That uprising handed over its leadership to the Lebanese people, who poured into the Square, from all sects and confessions, demanding freedom, sovereignty and national dignity, and calling for the extension of State authority over all the territory without exception.

It is indeed a glorious day that will not be erased from the memory of Lebanon, a day that the majority of Lebanese wanted to be a crossing bridge to the independent, free and sovereign State, and to the real co-existence, whereas the affected ones wanted it to be a sign of the renewed division in the country.

On the seventh anniversary of March 14th 2005, we aspire to the spirit that shone on Lebanon that day, and we renew our adherence to the unity of the Lebanese people in the face of challenges, no matter how great they are, and we reiterate our call to consider the option of the state as the sole solution.

The opportunity, that many inside and outside the country planned to dissipate after March 14th, still exists, and in the midst of the Arab change it must not be lost because of extremism, political stubbornness and wrong bets, nor because of attachment to intimidation through weapons or other means.

Lebanon is in the midst of major challenges that require us to have a unified vision of the country's future. They also require us to regain the spirit of March 14, which never bet on the division of the Lebanese people. And contrary to all conflicts it was drawn into, it chose the unity of the Lebanese people as its main weapon to launch the first Arab popular peaceful movement that ended the era of dependence and tutelage.

After March 14, the Lebanese decided to put an end to the foreign tutelage over their country and they will certainly not accept to have the Lebanese Republic fall under any new form of tutelage, whether direct or indirect. The various Lebanese groups should abandon the complex of relying on outside forces and linking their fate to that of near or remote regimes, especially when this dependence becomes a big burden on the shared national life and the rules of management of public affairs.

There is a neighboring regime which is agonizing. It would be illogical for any internal group to bet on changing the course of history and breathing life into a regime that is collapsing day after day. The Syrian people decided, also a year ago, to put an end to the hegemony of Bashar Al-Assad and the Baath party on the Syrian State. National, political and moral responsibility obligates us to express our solidarity and support for this people against the tragedy he faces, just as it obligates us to preserve our national unity and the establishment of the State that owns its own decision.

On this day, I salute every Lebanese who participated to the March 14 uprising, and particularly the thousands of youth who turned Beirut's heart into a vibrant square beating with freedom, and drew in every corner of Martyrs Square the road map to the modern Civil State. I also salute, with loyalty and reverence, the souls of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Lebanon and its people, and participated in making this day, so that it remains deeply-rooted in the consciousness of the Lebanese people and a luminous beacon of the Arab spring.

 

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Politics - Future, National Bloc meet over parliamentary elections law
 

Wed 14/03/2012 16:25

NNA - 14/03/2012 - A delegation of the Future Movement, comprising of Deputies Ahmad Fatfat and Hady Hbeish, visited on Wednesday the National Bloc's Secretary General Carlos Edde and discussed with him the parliamentary elections law issue.

Fatfat framed such visit within the other visits paid to March 14 allies in order to discuss the required law for the parliamentary elections of 2013. "All allies agreed that the election law need serious reforms stemming from our unified constitutional concepts... so that the Lebanese citizen feels himself well represented at the parliamentary council," said Fatfat.

Edde, for his part, reiterated open-mindedness to any reform providing a fair representation.
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Arab Interior Ministers' conference kicks off in Tunisia
 

Wed 14/03/2012 15:47

NNA - 14/03/2012 - The 29th round of Arab Interior Ministers meeting kicked off Wednesday in Tunisia in presence of 17 countries member in the Arab League. The conference was held under the patronage and in presence of Tunisian President Moncef Al-Marzouki.

Lebanese Interior and Municipalities Minister, Marwan Charbel, also took part in the conference heading a delegation of top police brass and senior aides.
 

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Politics - Kabbara denounces Kabbani, Ali get-together
 

Wed 14/03/2012 15:40

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Parliament member Muhammad Kabbara said Wednesday that the Mufti of the Republic's reception to the Syrian Ambassador, Ali Abdel Karim Ali, is highly rejected.

"Some countries are expelling the 'Ambassadors of Assad' while Mufti Kabbani challenged its confession, its people, the Arab country's people, and human rights principles by receiving him in Lebanon," the Deputy said accusingly.

"While Assad's killing machine is pursuing its slaughters against innocents, our government is still clinging to the policy of dissociation from condemning this bloodshed," he noted, assuring that neutrality between murderer and martyr actually contributes in the crime and encourages the killer to pursue its misdeed.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman: for resolving expired food, terrorist cells phenomena
 

Wed 14/03/2012 15:33

NNA - 14/03/2012 - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman urged intensifying efforts to resolve the expired food phenomenon, and cooperation among concerned ministries to obtain required data concerning terrorist cells in the country.

Sleiman's urgings came Wednesday in the context of the cabinet session held under his chairmanship at Baabda Palace.

Information Minister Walid Daouk, reading the session's outcome, quoted Sleiman as much perturbed about the food issue. Daouk said that pressing charges against those involved in distribution has been carried out and that Sleiman called for augmenting punishments within laws. Sleiman described the rotten food, distributed over hospitals, restaurants and other places, as catastrophic.

The President hailed the Lebanese Army Command for its efforts in grabbing hold of a terrorist cell planning against army barracks in the country.

In this connection, Sleiman quoted during the cabinet session Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji at the latest meeting of the Supreme Defense Council, as facing hindrances in gathering data concerning the cells. The president, accordingly, called upon concerned ministries to cooperate together to help remove impediments in this regard.

Eventually, the President told the cabinet he would partake in the Arab summit of Baghdad on March 29.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, for his part, declared he would hold today a meeting to look into the expired food issue and see the necessary procedures to be taken by the concerned ministries in this concern.
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - De Friej: economy committee to tackle diesel, decayed food topics
 

Wed 14/03/2012 15:08

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Future bloc member, Nabil De Freij, announced Wednesday that the parliamentary commission for economy will hold a session on Tuesday to tackle the dossiers of diesel and rotten food.

"The parliamentary committee will be held under my presidency in presence of the consumers' protection association to discuss the issue of diesel and expired food products," he said, assuring in his interview with LBC channel that he will not remain silent over these crucial topics.

The Deputy called in the same context for distinguishing between economic affairs and political conflicts, "as economy is the only arm in the hands of Lebanon so as to survive and persist."
D.K.

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Politics - Erslan condemns Israeli violation of Gaza
 

Wed 14/03/2012 15:02

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Lebanese Democratic Party Head, Talal Erslan, Wednesday condemned the Israeli hostile attacks against Gaza strip, saying Israel is taking advantage of the Arab and international silence to violate Gaza and commit terrorism.

Erslan accordingly called on the international community to condemn those Israeli aggressions and put terms to its constant violations.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


 

Politics - Khreiss renews cleaving to Resistance
 

Wed 14/03/2012 14:57

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Development and Liberation bloc member, Ali Khreiss, on Wednesday rekindled cleaving to the Resistance, method and culture, in the face of the Israeli aggressiveness.

"Amal Movement will not change the constants it has always advocated, on top of which the protection of national unity, coexistence, and holding onto the Resistance, culture and method, in the face of the Israeli aggressiveness," the Deputy said during a religious ceremony in Adloun village today.

Khreiss said that what is targeted nowadays throughout the Arab world is the Palestinian cause, wondering at the Arabs' role in what is being perpetrated against the Palestinian people.
Turning to Syria, he said the conspiracy against this nation had nothing to do with freedom or democracy. "The plot is aimed to retaliate against Syria for its support to the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine," he reckoned.

"We, in Lebanon, do believe that Israel is the absolute evil and the enemy that does not wish for any security, but that seeks to commit more crimes," he said.
 

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Politics - Falha discusses media cooperation with Chinese attach�
 

Wed 14/03/2012 13:34

NNA - 14/3/2012 Information Ministry's General Director Hassan Falha Wednesday discussed means of media cooperation during his meeting with China's cultural attach� Che Mignion.

Both men also tackled means of reinforcing cultural and media ties as well as providing technical support to official media institutions and the National News Agency.

Mignion conveyed Falha with the Chinese Republic Information Council Bureau's invitation to attend the third session of the Arab-Chinese media cooperation forum to be held in Guangzhou.
 

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Politics - Houry criticizes Syrian supporters in Lebanon
 

Wed 14/03/2012 13:09

NNA - 14/3/2012 - MP Ammar Houry Wednesday criticized pro Syrian regime supporters in Lebanon.

Future bloc member told Al-Sharek radio that these people present the worst image of Lebanon for they express dependency, submission, and humiliation.

Asked about Syria's accusation to Future Movement to support armed groups entering Lebanon from Syria, Houry said talks about financial and armed support are far from being true.

However, MP explained that his bloc is providing humanitarian, political, and media support to the Syrian people in their revolution against crime.

"No difference prevails between Israeli enemy's crimes in Gaza and Syrian regime crimes against the people," Houry remarked.

Houry said Syrian Ambassador's visit to Dar-El-Fatwa had an inappropriate timing since the meeting between Abdul Karim Ali and Mufti Sheikh Qabbani happened hours after massacres were committed in Syria.
L.W.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Gemayel, Barazanji discuss upcoming Arab summit
 

Wed 14/03/2012 13:07

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Kataeb party Head, Amin Gemayel, on Wednesday met with the Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, Omar Barazanji, with talks featuring high on regional affairs.

The pair tackled as well the Arab summit to be held in Bagdad on March 29 whereby Barazanji confirmed Iraq's commitments to the Arab league's decisions.

"Syria is not invited to participate in the summit, as per the Arab league's decision," he declared.

Separately, Gemayel received the French Senator Jean-Yves Leconte who called on French resident in Lebanon to vote for Jean-Daniel Chaoui and Rita Maalouf in the forthcoming French elections, "as it is necessary to elect constituent who work for Lebanon's sovereignty and exert efforts to reinforce relations between Lebanon and France."

Gemayel and Leconte discussed the developments in Syria, whereby the latter praised Lebanon's humanitarian role in helping wounded and displaced Syrians.

Leconte also thanked the Lebanese for participating in the evacuation of the French journalists wounded in Syria, and guaranteeing their return to their country.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Gemayel, Barazanji discuss upcoming Arab summit
 

Wed 14/03/2012 13:07

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Kataeb party Head, Amin Gemayel, on Wednesday met with the Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, Omar Barazanji, with talks featuring high on regional affairs.

The pair tackled as well the Arab summit to be held in Bagdad on March 29 whereby Barazanji confirmed Iraq's commitments to the Arab league's decisions.

"Syria is not invited to participate in the summit, as per the Arab league's decision," he declared.

Separately, Gemayel received the French Senator Jean-Yves Leconte who called on French resident in Lebanon to vote for Jean-Daniel Chaoui and Rita Maalouf in the forthcoming French elections, "as it is necessary to elect constituent who work for Lebanon's sovereignty and exert efforts to reinforce relations between Lebanon and France."

Gemayel and Leconte discussed the developments in Syria, whereby the latter praised Lebanon's humanitarian role in helping wounded and displaced Syrians.

Leconte also thanked the Lebanese for participating in the evacuation of the French journalists wounded in Syria, and guaranteeing their return to their country.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Zahra: Lebanese Forces will not severe ties with Bkirki
 

Wed 14/03/2012 13:04

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Lebanese Forces Antoine Zahra told LBC TV that the Lebanese Forces has no intention to sever its ties with Bkirki or boycott Maronite Patriarch Beshara al Rahi despite the remarks made by LF President Samir Geagea about the performance of the patriarch.
"But this does not mean we will not hesitate to voice our political views about the performance of the patriarch on certain issues. Our position supports the rights of people to strive for freedom and equality," Zahra said.

He warned that the Christians will be making a grave mistake if they walked in different direction of the Arab people who are striving for freedom and democracy.

Responding to a question, the MP said that despite the good relation of the President of the Republic Michel Sleiman with Syrian president Bashar Assad, Sleiman, nevertheless did not take a position against the Syrian people.

Zahra said it is wrong to support a brutal regime which kills its people under the pretext of protecting the Christians in the Middle East.

He disclosed that the Lebanese Forces will soon make a visit to Bkirki.
O.H

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Politics - Sleiman to head Lebanese delegation to Baghdad summit
 

Wed 14/03/2012 12:40

NNA - 14/3/2012 - President of the Republic Michel Sleiman informed the Cabinet today that he will head the Lebanese delegation which will attend the Arab summit in Baghdad on March 29.

O.H

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Politics - Habib: Government failed to reach economic strategy
 

Wed 14/03/2012 11:50

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Future bloc member MP Khodr Habib on Wednesday said the government failed to come up with any successful economic policy, therefore it should be held accountable for the state relapse.

He said it was necessary to announce a state of emergency and form a specialized committee to find radical solutions to the crisis.

Habib asked the government since when dealers had been distributing poisonous products to citizens, with total silence from the government.

The Deputy deemed as necessary to wait for the outcome of the investigation on food safety file to uncover the responsible sides and take the necessary measures against them.

Habib finally assured that the two separate extra-budgetary spending issues ought to be solved simultaneously, affirming that his political camp will attend the legislative session Thursday.
D.K.

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Politics - Walid Soukaryeh denounces criticism of Dar al fatwa
 

Wed 14/03/2012 11:41

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Walid Soukaryeh blasted some of the political figures who sharply criticized Mufti of the Lebanese Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rachid Qabani, warning that such virulent remarks offend all Muslims.

"The attacks against the Mufti will not only touch him in person but also the Muslims in general," the MP said.

He claimed that some of the political quarters in the country want the Mufti to serve their political projects.

"These detractors seem to forget that the Mufti is for all Muslims irrespective of their confessions and not only confined to the Sunnis."

O.H

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Politics - Cabinet convenes in Baabda, tackles spoiled meat issue
 

Wed 14/03/2012 10:32


NNA - 14/3/2012 - Cabinet convened early Wednesday at Baabda under the chairmanship of the Lebanese President Michel Sleiman.

Ministers engaged in talks concerning spoiled foodstuffs especially large quantities of spoiled meat and chicken recently discovered in suppliers' stocks.

Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi made clear before the session that the finalization of governmental spending needs further study and thus, is excluded from the agenda of today's session.
L.W.
 

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Politics - Zahraman: There are wide differences with Mufti
 

Wed 14/03/2012 10:26

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Future Parliamentary bloc member MP Khaled Zahraman said the ties between Future movement and the Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rached Qabani has not been severed despite the wide differences with him.

Speaking to "Radio Free Lebanon", the MP expressed his shock by the meeting between the Mufti and the Syrian ambassador just one day after the massacres in Homs and Idlib.

"We hope that the differences will be sorted out through dialogue and not through the media."

He criticized the international community for failing to take any action to stop the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against its people.

"The demonstrations that are taking place every day show that the Syrian people are determined to achieve its independence and dignity regardless of the price."

O.H

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Politics - Sleiman, Mikati meet
 

Wed 14/03/2012 10:14


NNA - 14/3/2012 Lebanese President Michel Sleiman Wednesday discussed major ongoing developments during his meeting with Premier Najib Mikati before the Cabinet's session.
L.W.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi winds up visit to Qatar, meets with ambassadors
 

Tue 13/03/2012 20:11

NNA - 13/3/2012 Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi winded up Tuesday afternoon his visit to Qatar by attending a lunch banquet held in his honor by Lebanese Ambassador to Qatar Hassan Saad at his residence.

In his address, Patriarch Rahi said that the essence of Lebanon lies in the fact that both Muslims and Christians built together a democratic state, open on all liberties and human rights.

"Lebanon bears the responsibility of confronting violence and wars and has to take into consideration the values of modernization and preserving justice and peace," Rahi said.

The lunch banquet was attended by a number of accredited Arab and foreign ambassadors as well as religious, social and political dignitaries.

Rahi also urged the Arab world to unify ranks and cooperate amongst each other to live 'a genuine Arab spring', to keep pace with modernization, meet peoples' needs and maintain openness on globalization.

On the other hand, Rahi met with delegations of Lebanese parties and visited the Lebanese School in Qatar affiliated to the Lebanese Embassy.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (CORRECTED) Aoun for security apparatus to check Army's infiltration
 

Tue 13/03/2012 20:04

NNA - 13/03/2012 - Deputy Michel Aoun said Tuesday the Lebanese Army was infiltrated, calling upon the security apparatus to check and determine the volume of such infiltration.

Head of the Bloc of Reform and Change (BRC) was speaking from his residence in Rabieh, in the context of BRC's regular weekly meeting.

Aoun said the crisis in Syria was on the verge of ending, indicating that there were some unorganized armed cells performing certain sort of unrest in the country. "The elections in Syria will occur; a new parliament will be formed in the country, with many parties participating in the elections."

Aoun hoped that Syria would regain its stability which would serve the Syrian Lebanese relations.
A.M>

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Politics - Aoun for security apparatus to check Army's infiltration
 

Tue 13/03/2012 19:53

NNA - 13/03/2012 - Deputy Michel Aoun said the Lebanese Army was infiltrated, calling upon the security apparatus to check and determine the volume of such infiltration.

Head of the Bloc of Reform and Change (BRC) was speaking from his residence in Rabieh, in the context of BRC's regular weekly meeting.

Aoun said the crisis in Syria was on the verge of ending, indicating that there were some unorganized armed cells performing certain sort of unrest in the country. "The elections in Syria will occur; a new parliament will be formed in the country, with many parties participating in the elections."

Aoun hoped that Syria would regain its stability which would serve the Syrian Lebanese relations.
A.M>

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Politics - (UPDATE) Invigorated activities highlight Grand Serail today
 

Tue 13/03/2012 19:36

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Tuesday held a series of meetings at the Grand Serail, and skimmed through an array of diplomatic, political, and developmental affairs with his itinerant visitors.

Premier Mikati respectively met today with the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Japan.

He later received the Director of Iranian state-run news agency IRNA, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who told reporters following the meeting that talks featured high on the Lebanese-Iranian bilateral ties and cooperation, namely on the level of power production and electricity generating.

"Considering the brotherly relations which link the Islamic Republic of Iran and Lebanon, we, in Iran, on the governmental and popular levels, deplore the condition of Lebanon as to electrical energy; this drives us to speed up steps so as to present all the constructive projects aimed to help on this level and to contribute to bringing back electricity to its normal course," he indicated.

Besides, he said that the meeting also touched on most recent political developments in the Mideast region.

Javanfekr, who is also the media advisor of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, underlined that the Islamic Republic indeed believes that political reforms in the structure of the ruling regime in Syria must be certainly made.

But he said that calm, stable, and adequate atmosphere should be provided in counterpart so as to bring these reforms into effect.

The Iranian official did not fail to lambast some states for bidding to exacerbate the crisis in the unrest-swept nation.

"Accordingly, countries which are friends of Syria, such as Iran and Lebanon, must beef up coordination so as to contribute to solving the crisis therein," he said.

Separately, the Minister of Telecommunications, Nicolas Sehnawi, had also been to the Grand Serail today, for a meeting with the Prime Minister over relevant ministerial affairs.

Mikati later received a delegation of Al-Jarrah Scouts Association, headed by Issam Ali Hassan, with talks featuring high on the current general situation on the Lebanese domestic scene.

Among the Grand Serail's itinerants today, had also been a delegation of Doniyeh municipalities union, headed by Mohammad Saadiyeh.

Talks reportedly touched on a spectrum of vital projects in the aforesaid region.

Mikati later met with a delegation of Jamaa Islamiyah, comprised of Abdullah Babti, Azzam Al-Ayoubi, and Nazem Menqara.

The Prime Minister also held a meeting with former Deputy, Mosbah Al-Ahdab.

Besides, the Prime Minister met this evening with Member of Parliament Sami Gemayel, who said today's visit to the Grand Serail was to thank Premier Mikati for the positivity he had shown vis-a-vis Saturday's demonstration by Kataeb and National Liberal parties.

Students from both parties gathered Saturday in a march towards the Grand Serail in objection to the new history syllabus, but before long engaged in a brawl with the security forces.
R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Future Bloc: for impartial committee to probe massacres in Syria
 

Tue 13/03/2012 18:58

NNA - 13/03/2012 - The Future Bloc called upon the Arab League and International Security Council to issue an urgent decision to form an impartial Arab international committee, for the purpose of "probing the cruel massacres committed by the Syrian regime against its people".

The Bloc's fresh stance came Tuesday in the context of its regular meeting under the chairmanship of the head of said bloc, Fouad Siniora, at the Center House of Beirut. Attendees reviewed overall developments at the local and regional scenes.

The Future urged Lebanese government to adopt a serious decision to help Syrian citizens fleeing into Lebanon due to the crisis in their country, and to act instantly to halt the regime's assaults against Lebanese territories, like Wadi Khalid and Arsal.

The Bloc blamed the regime for the terrible massacre in Homs two days ago, denouncing the repression and bloodshed in the country. "The Future Bloc loudly addresses Lebanese to show peaceful solidarity with the Syrian people in face of the regime's cruel crimes that concur with Israel's savage attack on besieged Gaza."

Turning to the local petrol file, the Bloc said that the government's project of setting up a committee for managing the fuel sector, must abide by article 10 of law no. 131 (24/08/2010) that stipulated the necessity for such committee to be totally independent in its performance.

A.M.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman: for impugning those who tamper with military institution
 

Tue 13/03/2012 17:36

NNA - 13/3/2012 President of the Republic Michel Sleiman commended the Army's disclosure of the terrorist fundamentalists' network members, stressing the necessity of impugning perpetrators and all those who seek to tamper with the military institution and its unity.

"It [military institution] has always proved especially during the past years that it is an institution for the nation and all citizens... It also proved to be the key guarantor for civil peace and the practice of democracy, public liberties, human rights and combating of terrorism and discarding fanaticism," President Sleiman said.

Sleiman met on Tuesday afternoon at Baabda Palace with Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji who gave him details on the network disclosure issue and investigations underway in this regards.

General Qahwaji underlined that there is no leniency whatsoever with those tampering with the Army's unity and security as well as the nation's unity and civil peace.

On the other hand, Sleiman met with former Minister Naji Boustani where they tackled political developments on the internal scene.
----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Grand Mufti concerned over developments headway in Syria
 

Tue 13/03/2012 16:49

NNA - 13/3/2012 - The Lebanese Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, on Tuesday said he was concerned over the headway of the latest developments in Syria, calling to stop the killing and bloodshed in the unrest-swept nation.

The Mufti made these remarks during his meeting at Dar-al-Fatwa today with the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, who said that talks shone light on the necessity to preserve national unity in both Lebanon and Syria.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, the diplomat also conveyed the Mufti's keenness on the obligation to protect understanding and coexistence and to shirk strife and internal bickering, whether in Lebanon or in the broader Arab region.

Ali did not fail to utter that Syria was fine and that the concocted plot against it was now clear for everyone, lashing out at the unremitting concerted media campaigns, only sparking terror and incitement.

In response to a question about UN peace envoy Kofi Annan's visit in Damascus, the ambassador reminded that Annan termed the situation in Syria as "difficult" but that he also said he was "upbeat." "He [Annan] left Syria with the impression that all Syrian religious, political, and social categories are seeking security while they refuse armament, strife fueling, and foreign interference in the Syrian internal affairs," he said.

On Homs massacre, the diplomat said that the crime was perpetrated by criminals who received all the help and support from some Arab states.

"Tomorrow, Syria will be better than today," he concluded.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Invigorated activities highlight Grand Serail today
 

Tue 13/03/2012 16:22

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Tuesday held a series of meetings at the Grand Serail, and skimmed through an array of diplomatic, political, and developmental affairs with his itinerant visitors.

Premier Mikati respectively met today with the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Japan.

He later received the Director of Iranian state-run news agency IRNA, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who told reporters following the meeting that talks featured high on the Lebanese-Iranian bilateral ties and cooperation, namely on the level of power production and electricity generating.

"Considering the brotherly relations which link the Islamic Republic of Iran and Lebanon, we, in Iran, on the governmental and popular levels, deplore the condition of Lebanon as to electrical energy; this drives us to speed up steps so as to present all the constructive projects aimed to help on this level and to contribute to bringing back electricity to its normal course," he indicated.

Besides, he said that the meeting also touched on most recent political developments in the Mideast region.

Javanfekr, who is also the media advisor of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, underlined that the Islamic Republic indeed believes that political reforms in the structure of the ruling regime in Syria must be certainly made.

But he said that calm, stable, and adequate atmosphere should be provided in counterpart so as to bring these reforms into effect.

The Iranian official did not fail to lambast some states for bidding to exacerbate the crisis in the unrest-swept nation.

"Accordingly, countries which are friends of Syria, such as Iran and Lebanon, must beef up coordination so as to contribute to solving the crisis therein," he said.

Separately, the Minister of Telecommunications, Nicolas Sehnawi, had also been to the Grand Serail today, for a meeting with the Prime Minister over relevant ministerial affairs.

Mikati later received a delegation of Al-Jarrah Scouts Association, headed by Issam Ali Hassan, with talks featuring high on the current general situation on the Lebanese domestic scene.

Among the Grand Serail's itinerants today, had also been a delegation of Doniyeh municipalities union, headed by Mohammad Saadiyeh.

Talks reportedly touched on a spectrum of vital projects in the aforesaid region.

Mikati later met with a delegation of Jamaa Islamiyah, comprised of Abdullah Babti, Azzam Al-Ayoubi, and Nazem Menqara.

The Prime Minister also held a meeting with former Deputy, Mosbah Al-Ahdab.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman commends Rahi's momentous role preserving Christian existence
 

Tue 13/03/2012 15:51

NNA - 13/03/2012 - President of the Republic Michel Sleiman commended on Tuesday the Maronite Patriarch's dauntless efforts to preserve a free Christian existence in the Middle East region.

"The Christian existence has established a meeting bridge of democracy between the east and the west," Sleiman told a group of newly appointed bishops who visited him in Baabda today.

The President also hailed Rahi's support for democracy, away from violence and extremism, reiterating appreciation of the Maronite Patriarch's efforts in renovating the church.

The visiting Iranian diplomat, Ali Akbar Javanfikr, also held talks with the President today and relayed his country's support to Lebanon. The pair also engaged in developments storming the regional scene.

Former Minister Adnan Kassar, Head of the Arab Chamber of Trade, Industry, and Agriculture, also held talks with the President on Tuesday.

Kassar had words of praise for the President who "managed to keep Lebanon a tranquil and stable area, which primarily attracts Arab investors."

In turn, President Sleiman also heaped praise on Kassar's efforts in uplifting Arab and Lebanese economy, and decorated him with a national cedar citation of an officer's rank in appreciation of his hard work.

Among the President's other interlocutors for today had been Lebanese University Head Adnan Sayyed, who briefed on preparations underway for university-related appointments.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Charbel from Tunis: security challenges require expertise exchange
 

Tue 13/03/2012 15:45

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Tuesday confirmed that challenges require communication, coordination and expertise exchange between Arab Interior Ministers so as to modernize the security institutions and establish stability which is the key for economic growth and sustainable development.

Charbel made these remarks during a lunch banquet held in his honor by the Lebanese Ambassador to Tunisia, Farid Abboud, at his residence in Tunis.

It is to note that Charbel had been to Tunisia on top of a Lebanese delegation to participate in the 29th session of the Arab Interior Ministers' council.

Charbel underscored the pioneering role played by Lebanese resident in Tunis as they contribute in its commercial and social growth.

He also thanked Tunis for receiving the Lebanese expatriates, highlighting the importance of following up bilateral affairs so as to reactivate tourism and provide further job opportunities.

Charbel finally summoned Lebanese expatriates to register their names in the Lebanese Embassies abroad, in preparation for their participation in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Berri's Tuesday itinerants
 

Tue 13/03/2012 15:24

NNA - 13/03/2012 - Upon winding up his mission in Lebanon, the Jordanian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ziad Al-Majali, paid a farewell visit on Tuesday to House Speaker Nabih Berri.

The Arab Parliament Union Secretary General, Noureddine Boushkoj, also visited the House Speaker today to brief him on the outcome of the union's 18th conference, which had been held in Kuwait earlier this month.

Among Berri's other itinerants for today had been Dr. Zeineddine Al Husseini Al-Shahrastani of the Canadian "Dar Al-Hekmeh", and former MP Hussein Yatim.

Shahrastani handed Berri and honorary membership certificate from "Dar Al Hekmeh" association.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Torbey meets Flecther, says Lebanese banks respect international resolutions
 

Tue 13/03/2012 15:23

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Joseph Torbey, on Tuesday met with the British ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher, over an array of Lebanese-British concerns and issues.

Torbey was keen to relay to the diplomat gratefulness for the United Kingdom's support to Lebanon and the Lebanese banking sector expressed in the ambassador's interviews and speeches, especially amid recently launched attacks by some columnists in international press, against the Lebanese banking sector.

"Such press communication addressed by yourself, Mr. Ambassador, and spread through domestic and international media, is a matter of major importance to us, especially when emanating from a notable personality representing an important country, in areas of financial regulation and supervision, anti- money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, and also because London is Europe's most important financial center," said Torbey.

"As you well know, Lebanon banks adopt and comply with the best international norms and standards in terms of risk management, capital allocation, Know Your Customer, and combating money laundering. Moreover, applying and adhering to international rules and regulations and respecting the supremacy of international resolutions has always been, and will always be a firm commitment of ours. We, Lebanese bankers, together with the Lebanese banking regulatory and supervisory authorities, spare no effort to keep Beirut an eminent financial center in the Middle East, and aim persistently to strengthen its role in the region and the world," he added.

As noting that Lebanon is UK's 2nd largest trading partner in the Levant, and UK's 7th trading partner in the Middle East, according to UK Trade and Investment Government Agency, he said the good relations with the UK are not only measured in terms of trade and financial transactions, mainly driven by outstanding overseas contacts of the Lebanese business community and Diaspora, but evaluated as well, in terms of sharing the same values: those of democracy, freedom of speech and expression, free market principles, liberal trade and investment policies, and absence of restrictions on capital flows.

"The reputation and protection of our banks and customers take priority over anything else. In this context of involvement in preventing and controlling financial crimes and facilitating international cooperation, I should mention that our Association of Banks in Lebanon has been, through its delegate, an active participant to the annual Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, usually attended by more than 1500 delegates from over 90 countries. Those include senior ministers and representatives directly involved in public and private sectors, and working in areas of prevention and control of economic and financial fraud, corruption and abuse," he indicated.

The British ambassador, for his part, made it clear that Britain seeks to protect Lebanon's lucrative banking sector from sanctions against Syria, vowing to exert necessary efforts to safeguard its credibility.

"It is probably the most regulated industry in Lebanon and this is thanks to the Central Bank's stance to stiffen the regulation mechanism," he said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (UPDATE)Mansour tackles developments with Syrian, Iranian, Italian diplomats
 

Tue 13/03/2012 15:11

NNA - The Iranian President's media advisor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, on Tuesday called for intensified economic cooperation between all the countries of the region "which stand at the frontline facing the perilous Zionist entity."

On the second day of his visit to Lebanon, Javanfekr met with Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Adnan Mansour, over an array of mutual-interest issues. The pair also held a tour de horizon touching on political developments at the regional and international scenes.

"We saw eye to eye over the inevitability of intensifying our political negotiations, cooperation, and coordination between both fraternal countries, at all levels," he said.

Following his visit to Mansour in the company of the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Gazanfar Roknabadi, the Iranian diplomat asserted that incase Lebanon failed to attend Iran's meeting on Syria, his country would brief the Lebanese Government on the meeting's outcome and decisions.

"The most important thing within this frame is that the both fraternal countries share a joint political view on developments taking place at the regional level," he said.

Within the coming few days, Iran will be hosting four or five countries to trash out Syria-related developments. Yesterday, Javanfekr extended an official invitation to the Lebanese President to attend the meeting, but said that Lebanon's attendance was not confirmed yet.

The Iranian diplomat also failed to decisively confirm whether Russia would be attending as well.

In response to the International Security Council and Cairo's meetings on Monday, Javanfekr said that the Syrian government's positive and constructive reforms ought to be met with tranquility and peace. He also reprimanded what he described as blatant interference in Syria's internal affairs.

"This alone should prompt us to cooperate and consecrate security and stability in this fraternal country."

Separately, Mansour met with the Italian Minister's Special Envoy to the Middle East region, Mauricio Masari, who said on emerging that his meeting with Mansour was an occasion to reiterate Italy's commitment to boosting cooperation with Lebanon, especially within the frame of Italy's participating force within UNIFIL.

Touching on Syria's unrest, Masari said his country was against any foreign military intervention in Syria, but supported instead a Syrian course of politics.

The Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, also had his share of talks with Mansour on Tuesday.

On emerging, Ali called for continued efforts in monitoring Lebanese-Syrian borders, and elevating security awareness.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - France to downsize participation in UNIFIL
 

Tue 13/03/2012 14:59

NNA - 13/3/2012 - France will downsize the strength of its contingent operating within the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, spokesperson of the French Foreign Ministry, Bernard Valero, said on Tuesday.

"As of April, France will downsize its UNIFIL contingent by nearly 400 members, so as the strengths reach 1000 by the summer, as per the strategic review relayed by UN Chief, Ban Ki-moon," Valero said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi condemns violence in Syria
 

Tue 13/03/2012 14:41

NNA - 13/3/2012 - The Maronite Patriarch, Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi, on Tuesday renewed his condemnation of the violence in Syria, whether sparked by the [Syrian] regime, the people, or the armed groups.

Interviewed on Al-Jazeera channel, the Patriarch reminded that Christianity bans killing.

"Where is the democracy they are talking about in Iraq today, especially amid the emigration of Christians," he wondered.

Turning to Lebanon, Rahi said that Bkerki, the Maronite patriarchate seat, is with everyone and not with a party against another.

On Hezbollah weapons, he said that he indeed had concerns if these arms remained outside the defense strategy frame, calling the international community to find a solution to this issue.

He also highlighted his respect to the decisions of the current Najib Mikati-led government, which "has included the army-people-Resistance in its state policy."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hariri meets Plumbly in Paris
 

Tue 13/03/2012 14:37

NNA - 13/03/2012 - Derek Plumbly, the United Nations Secretary General Special Coordinator in Lebanon, held talks on Tuesday with Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

In a meeting at Hariri's Paris residence, both men tackled the implementation of International Security Council Resolution 1701, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, as well as most recent regional developments.

The pair also engaged in "international efforts aiming to exterminate the carnage wrought by the Syria's rule against its people," a statement by Hariri's information bureau read.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Siniora, Leconte meet
 

Tue 13/03/2012 14:34

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Future bloc Head, Fouad Siniora, on Tuesday received the French Senator, Jean-Yves Leconte, with whom he skimmed through latest local and regional developments.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi from Qatar: Church respects Lebanese Islamic-Christian pact
 

Tue 13/03/2012 14:29

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Church in one-colored as it abides by the Lebanese Islamic-Christian national pact said the Maronite Patriarch, Bechara Boutros Rahi, during a dinner banquet held in his honor by the Maronite parish in Qatar.

Rahi addressed the Lebanese Diaspora resident Qatar, praising the progress and prosperity they achieve for this country at various levels, and expressing pride in them as they mirrored Lebanon's true image and reactivated fraternal ties between the two countries.

The Patriarch noted that Qatari Prince, Hamad Ben Khalifa Al-Thani, seemed highly concerned with the dreadful Arab situation and keen on respecting human rights for freedom.

"Lebanon is limping for it is affected by the Arab developments. Let's be realistic and admit that we are an integral part of the Arab world, hence we are highly influenced by the Palestinian-Israeli and Arab Israeli-conflicts, not to forget the international and regional divergences and problems on top of which the Syrian crisis which inflicts upon Lebanon many repercussions," Patriarch Rahi explained.

"Lebanon should play its role as a factor of stability in the region it belongs to," he added in this regard, assuring that respect for each other's opinions and affiliations ought to be a priority.

"We cannot eliminate each other. We need each other to form our diverse fabric," he said, indicating that the regional changes require some modifications in the national pact so as to meet the current stage's requirements.

Rahi concluded his statement by confirming that Lebanon had separated politics from religion yet maintained its respect for its various confessions, saying "Lebanon is an ideal model to the East and the West", as late Pope John Paul II had once said.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Kanso meets Electricite du Liban delegation
 

Tue 13/03/2012 14:13

NNA - 13/03/2012 - Member of Parliament Assem Kanso met on Tuesday with a delegation of Electricite Du Liban employees who briefed him on their most pressing demands.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Daouk meets Javanfekr, says Lebanon open to constructive dialogue
 

Tue 13/03/2012 14:03

NNA - 13/03/2012 - Information Minister, Walid Daouk, on Tuesday praised the special existing relations between Lebanon and the Iranian Islamic Republic and hoped for fruitful media cooperation between both nations.

Daouk made his remarks in the wake of a meeting with the Iranian President's Media advisor and the Iranian News Agency's (IRINA) chief, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, the Information Ministry's General Director, Hassan Falha, National News Agency Director, Laure Sleiman Saab, and other concerned officials.

"Lebanon is a cultural nation open to the entire world, and keenly cares for continuous and constructive dialogue," the Minister said.

Daouk also relayed the visiting Iranian delegation's confirmation of Iran's will to receive Lebanese journalists in an attempt to boost relations between both countries.

"He [Javanfekr] also relayed the Iranian President's support for archiving the National News Agency and Tele Liban, within a series of fruitful cooperation agreements both countries."

In turn, the Iranian diplomat encouraged future investments in media cooperation and coordination.

"I agreed with his Excellency on the scientific means to document media cooperation between both fraternal countries," Javanfikr added.

Within the coming few days, Iran will be hosting four or five countries to trash out Syria-related developments. Yesterday, Javanfekr extended an official invitation to the Lebanese President to attend the meeting, but said that Lebanon's attendance was not confirmed yet.

On the second day of his visit to Lebanon, the Iranian diplomat also met with Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Adnan Mansour, over an array of political developments at the regional and international scenes.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hout: March 14 commemoration in indoor stadium wise decision
 

Tue 13/03/2012 13:18

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Deputy Imad Al-Hout Tuesday said that moving the March 14 commemoration ceremony to a indoor location is a wise and responsible decision in light of the tension prevailing over the country due to the Syrian unrest.

Hout told the Orient radio station that March 14 was still on the same political path.

"There seems to be a popular awareness over the concept of freedom in the Arab world. The Lebanese are showing more sympathy day after day," he remarked, reminding of March 14's ultimate principles: freedom, justice and patriotism.

The Deputy noted as well that some of Lebanon's leaders were ready to turn the page on the past stage and legalize the expenditures between 2006 and 2011; therefore, this matter will not be on the parliament's agenda Thursday for further discussion within the cabinet.

"The remaining period of the government's term ought to be invested in real achievements at the service of the citizens," he hoped.

Pertaining to the relation between Mufti of the Republic, Muhammad Rashid Kabbani and March 14, Deputy Hout assured that the reforms within Dar El-Fatwa's administration were sheer developmental with no political aims whatsoever; assuring that Dar El-Fatwa is a national institution that would always remain aloof from political polarization.

Separately, the Jamaa Islamiya MP condemned the massacres taking place in Homs, saying the Syrian regime's crimes against Syria's people who seek freedom were not surprising yet the international stance at this level was totally unexpected.

"Self-defense is a legitimate right," he declared, saying it is necessary to equip the Free Syrian Army with all necessary tools to protect civilians and prevent civil war in Syria.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Javanfekr meets Mansour, touts regional unity
 

Tue 13/03/2012 12:49

NNA - The Iranian President's media advisor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, on Tuesday called for intensified economic cooperation between all the countries of the region "which stand at the frontline facing the perilous Zionist entity."

On the second day of his visit to Lebanon, Javanfekr met with Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Adnan Mansour, over an array of mutual-interest issues. The pair also held a tour de horizon touching on political developments at the regional and international scenes.

"We saw eye to eye over the inevitability of intensifying our political negotiations, cooperation, and coordination between both fraternal countries, at all levels," he said.

Following his visit to Mansour in the company of the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Gazanfar Roknabadi, the Iranian diplomat asserted that incase Lebanon failed to attend Iran's meeting on Syria, his country would brief the Lebanese Government on the meeting's outcome and decisions.

"The most important thing within this frame is that the both fraternal countries share a joint political view on developments taking place at the regional level," he said.

Within the coming few days, Iran will be hosting four or five countries to trash out Syria-related developments. Yesterday, Javanfekr extended an official invitation to the Lebanese President to attend the meeting, but said that Lebanon's attendance was not confirmed yet.

The Iranian diplomat also failed to decisively confirm whether Russia would be attending as well.

In response to the International Security Council and Cairo's meetings on Monday, Javanfekr said that the Syrian government's positive and constructive reforms ought to be met with tranquility and peace. He also reprimanded what he described as blatant interference in Syria's internal affairs.

"This alone should prompt us to cooperate and consecrate security and stability in this fraternal country."
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Layoun: Mikati earnestly preparing spending formula
 

Tue 13/03/2012 12:03

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Culture Minister Gaby Layoun on Tuesday said Prime Minister Najib Mikati is eagerly working on preparing the spending formula which the cabinet designated him to do.

Layoun told the Voice of Lebanon, Voice of Dignity and Freedom that this matter was very crucial as it required avoiding mincing words.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


 

Politics - Maalouf: Cabinet existence restrains us
 

Tue 13/03/2012 11:47

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Deputy Joseph Maalouf stressed on Tuesday "as long as this current cabinet remains in power we are not improving."

Interviewed on the MP "Voice of Lebanon" radio, Maalouf dismissed the Mikati-led cabinet as non-existent and incapable of taking necessary decisions, especially with regard to livelihood and appointment-related issues.

The Deputy warned that Syrian incidents were influencing the situation in Lebanon and called for respect dealing with the Syrian people, especially those fleeing their country's unrest in Lebanon. "Lebanon is the cradle of democracy and public freedom," he added.

On the other hand, the MP stressed attachment to the Cedar Revolution and independence uprising, adding that "this is what the document will announce in tomorrow's March 14 rally".

Concerning the participation of March 14 in the legislative session, the MP said "the opposition will take part in the legislative session whether the spending file is on its agenda or not because we never intend to disrupt the work of the parliament."
A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved











 

Politics - Army's efforts to uncover subversive cell earn Manjian's admiration
 

Tue 13/03/2012 11:10

NNA - 13/2/2012 - State Minister Panos Manjian felicitated Tuesday the Lebanese Army's officers and members for uncovering a subversive cell within its ranks that had plotted to attack military bases.

The Lebanese Army has arrested members of the cell which harbored subversive intentions and was active in north Lebanon with branches in the Palestinian camp.

Manjian affirmed that those military bases were not soft target as they were heavily protected.

He accordingly called for adopting strict preventive measures at this level.

As for the food safety issue, Minister Manjian stressed the necessity of prosecuting the perpetrators whomsoever and announcing to the public the names of the rotten food distributors, as well as of the restaurants and hotels involved in that scandal.

Pertaining to the potential call of President Michel Sleiman for holding a dialogue session, Manjian reiterated unconditional dialogue's importance in breaking the ice between the country's leaders.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Houry insists on one solution for spending dispute
 

Tue 13/03/2012 11:06

NNA - 13/2/2012 - Future Parliamentary bloc member Ammar Houry told Voice of Lebanon "Voice of Freedom and Dignity" that the only solution for the extra budgetary spending issue is to adopt a uniform position on this matter away from vindictiveness since this approach only harms those who trigger them.

"If it became certain that the parliament's agenda on March 15 does not include the LL8.9 trillion extra budgetary spending then we will hold a meeting to decide whether we will attend the legislative session," the MP explained.

O.H

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Jumblatt tells Al-Anbaa his father foresaw the fall of totalitarianism
 

Mon 12/03/2012 20:34

NNA - 12/03/2012 - Kamal Jumblatt predicted the fall of totalitarianism a long time ago, MP Walid Jumblatt told Al- Anbaa weekly on Monday, marking his father's commemoration which coincides with the launch of the Syrian revolution one year ago.

Born on December 6, 1917, and assassinated on March 16, 1977, Kamal Jumblatt was the main leader of the anti-government forces in the Lebanese Civil War until his assassination in 1977. He is the father of the present Lebanese Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt.

"He was the first to brandish slogans that said: fleeing the struggle of life is tantamount to fleeing the struggle of rights," Jumblatt said as quoting his late father.

He added that all the thoughts and beliefs of Kamal Jumblatt were being echoed today by Syria's robust citizens "who refuse dictatorship and oppression, but seek instead their legitimate rights to freedom, democracy, and dignity," the National Struggle Front Leader Walid Jumblatt said.

Commending the Syrian people's utter refusal to live their life cowed by repression, Jumblatt said that they had finally broken the fear barrier which had never scared his father for a single day.

"Here we witness Kamal Jumblatt vanquishing those who targeted him 35 years ago. Here we witness the Arab people being set free from jails and from behind prison bars, one after another," Jumblatt added.

Paying tribute to his late father, Jumblatt also seized the occasion to salute the people of Syria who "cling tighter to their rights and demands with the surge of killings and assassinations aginst them."
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Massari hopes Annan solve Syrian crisis peacefully
 

Mon 12/03/2012 19:38

NNA - 12/03/2012 - Italy's Foreign Ministry Special Emissary to the Middle East, Mauricio Massari, said the United Nations backed its Special Envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, hoping that his [Annan's] initiative would help solve the Syrian crisis in a peaceful, political way.

Massari's fresh stance came after his meeting with Head of Kataeb Party, Amin Gemayel, at the Kataeb head-office in Saifi/Beirut. Both discussed overall developments at the local and regional scenes, notably the question of stability in the East Mediterranean, amidst what has been termed as the "Arab Spring".

Massari called for halting violence and repression against the civilians in Syria.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (UPDATED) Mikati: political coverage for Army available since long time
 

Mon 12/03/2012 19:14

NNA - 12/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the political coverage has been available to the Lebanese Army since long time. "The Lebanese Army is performing its duty." Mikati recalled that in the latest meeting for the Supreme Defense Council, the Army Commander said that the Army had the full political coverage since 1992 in accordance with procedure number 1 that was concerned about solving any security unrest in the interior and on the borders.

Mikati hoped accomplishing the law draft pertaining to an acquittance for the imports and expenditure of past years, as a preliminary stage to start exploring the acquittance issue in Wednesday's cabinet session.

Turning to the Syrian crisis, Mikati hoped that the violence and bloodshed in Syria would be terminated. "The way of solving the pending issue must be decided by the Syrian people."

Separately, Mikati received at the Grand Serail the British Ambassador Tom Fletcher, with talks featuring high on bilateral ties as well as overall developments at the regional scene.

Afterwards, Mikati received Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun and reviewed with him ministerial affairs as well as the extra-budgetary spending issue.

Amongst Mikati's visitors have been Deputy Ibrahim Kanaan; a delegation of the Arab Chambers Union presided by former Minister Adnan Qassar; French Senates Council member Jean-Yves Leconte; Beirut University Head Amro Al-Adwi; and a delegation of AUB Club graduates.
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mikati: political coverage for Army available since long time
 

Mon 12/03/2012 18:51

NNA - 12/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the political coverage has been available to the Lebanese Army since long time. "The Lebanese Army is performing its duty." Mikati recalled that in the latest meeting for the Supreme Defense Council, the Army Commander said that the Army had the full political coverage since 1992 in accordance with procedure number 1 that was concerned about solving any security unrest in the interior and on the borders.

Mikati hoped accomplishing the law draft pertaining to an acquittance for the imports and expenditure of past years, as a preliminary stage to start exploring the acquittance issue in Wednesday's cabinet session.

Turning to the Syrian crisis, Mikati hoped that the violence and bloodshed in Syria would be terminated. "The way of solving the pending issue must be decided by the Syrian people."

Separately, Mikati received at the Grand Serail the British Ambassador Tom Fletcher, with talks featuring high on bilateral ties as well as overall developments at the regional scene.

Afterwards, Mikati received Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun and reviewed with him ministerial affairs as well as the extra-budgetary spending issue.

Amongst Mikati's visitors have been Deputy Ibrahim Kanaan and a delegation of the Arab Chambers Union presided by former Minister Adnan Qassar.
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Singh: Nothing unusual in Kferkela zone
 

Mon 12/03/2012 17:48

NNA - 12/3/2012 UNIFIL Spokesman Neeraj Singh described the situation in UNIFIL operation zone in the south as stable and tranquil, especially at the international borders off the town of Kferkela.

Singh's words came in a statement he issued on Monday.

"Nothing unusual is taking place there [off kferkela}," Singh said, pointing out that UNIFIL mentioned before in its statement dated February 23 an agreement between the two sides over an Israeli intention to build a separating wall south of the "Blue Line" off the city of Kferkela.
----------------- L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Berri meets IRNA Director, others
 

Mon 12/03/2012 17:10

NNA - 12/3/2012 - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, on Monday met with the Director of Iran's state-run news agency (IRNA), Ali Akbar Javanfekr, over an array of affairs of common interest and the current general situation in the Mideast region.

Javanfekr, also President Ahmadinejad's media advisor, had been to Ain-el-Tineh today with the accompanying delegation, in presence of Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, Amal Movement's official Talal Hatoum, and the Director General of the National Broadcasting Network (NBN), Qassem Sweid. The visiting official is scheduled to hold talks with the Lebanese top political leaders.

The Iranian politician said, following the meeting, that the ongoing political changes, mainly in the MENA region, required utmost awareness and caution. "We are required to bolster our relations with each others, so as to protect and defend our interests and presence in the region."

Earlier today, the Speaker met with former Deputy Mosbah Al-Ahdab, over the current general situation in North Lebanon and the necessity to close ranks so as to shirk the repercussions of the existing rift in Lebanon over Syria's developments.

Among Ain-el-Tineh itinerants visitors, had also been former Deputy Hassan Alawiya accompanied by his two sons, attorneys Sadeq and Sami Alawiya.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved













 

Politics - Hariri: Assad will meet the fate of the criminal rulers
 

Mon 12/03/2012 16:01

NNA - 12/03/2012 - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri noted that the massacre committed by Bashar al-Assad's regime in Homs in the past two days coincided with the brutal Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.

He said in a statement today: "We know that Israel is our enemy and the enemy of the Palestinian people, and we condemn such heinous crimes committed by the enemy, but the least that can be said about the recent massacre committed by Bashar al-Assad's regime against the innocent Syrian citizens in Homs is that it doesn't just constitute a blatant condemnation of this regime, but also a condemnation of the international community's lack of humanity towards the daily massacre of the Syrian people and the genocide operations that disgrace all those who cover the continuing series of crimes in Syria. "

Hariri added: "The massacre of Homs, that targeted innocent children, women and elderly in their homes, is one of the signs of the end of Bashar al-Assad's regime, who will meet the fate that has to be met by the criminal rulers who use power as a mean to maltreat their people".

He concluded: "I reiterate my solidarity with the Syrian people during these difficult days, and I call upon the Arab and international communities to stand by them in words and deeds on this day, as Bashar al-Assad adds a black page to his black record."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved











 

Politics - No participation in Parliament session unless financial quandary solved, Zahraman
 

Mon 12/03/2012 15:23

NNA - 12/3/2012 - Future bloc member Khaled Zahraman on Monday ruled out participation in the next legislative session if the much-heated financial dossier was not settled on.

Interviewed on NBN channel, the Deputy said that the contentious spending figures were scheduled at the Ministry of Finance, adding that the current ruling authority is entitled to recourse to justice if any accountability was duly proven.

Besides, he did not fail to lash out at Hezbollah's weapons, which he termed as "a burden on the Lebanese political life."

"Dialogue is the sole means to reach a solution on this level. The problem is that Hezbollah is not a Lebanese group but a faction of Al-Wali al-Faqih army," he reckoned.

Turning to Syria, Zahraman said events therein were sheer domestic affairs. "We certainly have a political opinion and position from what is happening," he concluded.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved








 

Politics - Mansour meets UNESCO regional director
 

Mon 12/03/2012 14:23

NNA - 12/3/2012 Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour Monday met with the UNESCO representative in Lebanon and Syria, Hamad bin Seif Hamami.

Talks touched on the organization's activities as well as the importance of its bureau in Lebanon for Arab countries.

At another level, Health Ministry representative, Georges Saade, visited the Ministry today so as to supervise the implementation of the decision to ban smoking in public administrations.
L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved



 

Politics - Tohme: Kataeb, NLP mission succeeded
 

Mon 12/03/2012 14:01

NNA - 12/3/2012 MP Nidal Tohme Monday said Kataeb and National Liberal Party succeeded in raising the History Book issue.

Future bloc member said that we ought to contribute in protecting our national accomplishments from distortion.

A rally organized by student supporters from the Kataeb and the National Liberal party Sunday protested on introducing a new history curriculum they say neglects major events in the country's recent past.

"I couldn't explain the security forces' brutal reaction," Tohme remarked and expressed rejection to assaulting Lebanese students and violating their freedom of expression.
Hence, the MP urged Interior and Municipalities Minister to follow up on the issue.

Pertaining to the Syrian issue, Tohme said new attempts to halt violence






 

Politics - Rahi meets Qatari Prince in Doha
 

Mon 12/03/2012 13:54

NNA - 12/03/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rahi currently on a visit to Qatar met Monday with Qatari Prince, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, in presence of Bishop Boulos Sayyah, Father Elie Madi, lawyer Walid Ghayyad and Lebanese Ambassador to Qatar, Hassan Saad.

The Patriarch and the Prince had held a closed session before the broad meeting.

Rahi had also met with the Qatari Prime Minister - Foreign Minister, Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani.

The Patriarch had chaired on Sunday evening a Mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Doha.

Rahi thanked the Prince of Qatar for hosting 70 000 Lebanese who "live in Doha with all dignity while helping their loved ones in Lebanon."

"We are proud of the Lebanese working in different sectors and contributing to the prosperity of the country" said the Patriarch.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved










 

Politics - IRNA Director in Beirut to underpin cooperation
 

Mon 12/03/2012 13:27

NNA - 12/3/2012 - The Director of the Iranian Republic News Agency (IRNA), Ali Akbar Javanfekr, arrived in Beirut Monday morning, coming from Teheran, to participate in the opening of the new IRNA office in Beirut, as well as to meet with ranking Lebanese officials.

Javanfekr was received at Beirut International Airport by the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Ruknabadi, the Director of the National News Agency Mrs Laure Sleiman Saab, and the Director of IRNA in Beirut, Yasser Mouradi.

Javanfekr delivered a statement upon his arrival to Beirut airport, whereby he underscored the fraternal ties which bond Lebanon and Iran together.

"Lebanese-Iranian ties are deep-rooted and constructive at various levels, therefore we believe this good relation deserves exclusive concern from the Iranian Republic, especially at the level of cooperation between both countries' News Agencies," the Director announced.

He also noted that IRNA's office in Beirut was certainly one of the best Iranian news bureaus spread all over the world, when it comes to performance and productivity.

Javanfekr confirmed as well that boosting IRNA's work in Lebanon emanated from his country's keenness on reinforcing cooperation with Lebanon, the brother country, at news agency's level.

Accordingly, IRNA Director indicated that he would be holding meetings with ranking political figures during his stay in Lebanon so as to skim through bilateral relations, shed light on the letter of peace Iran holds for Lebanon, and deliver a verbal message from the Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad.

As for the cooperation between IRNA and NNA, Javanfekr said "we will seize all available opportunities to boost bilateral binds, particularly in the fields of production, news videos and documentaries."
D.K.

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Politics - Hajj Hassan: To recoil from confessional speech
 

Mon 12/03/2012 12:49

NNA - 12/3/2012 Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan Monday urged political parties to recoil from confessional or racist speeches leading to divisiveness and aiming at achieving political and personal interests.

Hajj Hassan spoke during the "Loyalty to the Lebanese Army" day organized by the National Gathering for Culture, Environment and Heritage in cooperation with the Ebba municipality in Nabatiyeh.

Representatives of Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Rahi and Information Minister attended the ceremony along with MPs Yassin Jaber and Abdul Latif Zein.

Agriculture Minister asserted that the Ministry shall be cooperating with all institutions so as to preserve forest wealth and expand green areas.
L.W.
 

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Politics - Ogassapian urges Arab people to select their leaders
 

Mon 12/03/2012 12:23

NNA - 12/3/2012 - Deputy Jean Ogassapian emphasized that the Arab people have the right to choose their leaders, calling for democratic regimes in the Arab world.

The MP called on the European Union and Switzerland to exert more and quick pressure on Syria to halt the bloodshed and rescue the Syrian people.

There is a European interest to provide stability and decent life in the Arab World", he stressed following his meeting with the Swiss Deputy Marcus Hutter in Zurich where they tackled the Lebanese and Syrian situation.

The MP confirmed that "Future" bloc has always supported the Syrian people.

Moreover, the MP stressed that Future bloc is a liberal democratic party which includes all components of the Lebanese people.

"This bloc believes in partnership, equality and freedom of thought", he assured.
A.A.M

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Politics - Sleiman, Berri meet
 

Mon 12/03/2012 12:18

NNA - 12/3/2012 - President of the Republic Michel Sleiman and House Speaker Nabih Berri held a one-hour meeting Monday at Baabda presidential palace with talks touching on latest developments, particularly those pertaining to the legislative session scheduled for Thursday.

Speaker Berri left Baabda without making any comments.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


 

Politics - Hamadeh: Spending issue not to be tackled in Thursday's legislative session
 

Mon 12/03/2012 11:05

NNA - 12/3/2012 - MP Marwan Hamadeh on Monday expected that the spending formula would not be added to the agenda of the parliamentary session scheduled for next Thursday, as it should first go through the cabinet.

The Deputy told the Voice of Lebanon - Voice of Dignity and Freedom that the LL 8.9 trillion and the $11 billion must be tackled similarly. "If not, there will be no quorum in the legislative session," he explained.

The MP called for solving people's issues by addressing pending law drafts submitted to the cabinet.

As for the March 14 commemoration, Hamadeh said this year's rally would be an occasion for general association's cadres to meet and come up with a joint charter.
D.K.

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Politics - Kanaan: A compromise on budget accounts unacceptable
 

Mon 12/03/2012 11:02

NNA - 12/3/2012 - Change and Reform Parliamentary bloc member MP Ibrahim Kanaan told Voice of Lebanon "Voice of Freedom and Dignity" that there won't be a compromise on the controversial extra budgetary spending.

"The principle of a settlement and compromise on the issue of budget spending has been dropped. It is also unacceptable to give any justification for this government or any other government to overlook this issue," the MP argued.

He disclosed that the legal formula on the issue of extra budgetary spending is ready.

"But this (formula) should be referred with the rest of the accounts, revenues and expenditures must be attached with the old budgets to parliament."

The MP added that the meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati today will put the final touches on this formula.

Kanaan had no knowledge about the position of MP Walid Jumblatt on the new formula.

The MP believes that the new formula has a great chance to pass by the Cabinet and Parliament.

O.H

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Politics - Zahra: we refuse double standards on extra budgetary spending issue

Mon 12/03/2012 10:41


NNA - 12/3/2012 - Deputy Antoine Zahra refused double standards and the adoption of two standards on the issue of spending outside the budget.


"March 14 does not want to disrupt the parliament", Zahra confirmed.


The MP told "Voice of Lebanon" radio on Monday that he refused to use the quorum at the parliament to pass unilateral plans.


On the other hand, the MP stressed that March 14 rally would be an occasion for the civil society to renew its commitment to Cedar Revolution.


"March 14 has one message and is committed to its principles and stresses the need for one country and authority," Zahra stressed.


A.A.M

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Politics - Bazzi: Nation needs concerted efforts
 

Mon 12/03/2012 08:54

NNA - 12/3/2012 - Deputy Ali Bazzi called on all Lebanese to unite and concert efforts in order to end divisions and disagreements among all parties and sects for the sake of Lebanon.

"Let's build a nation of dignity, sovereignty, freedom, justice and equality away from division", he stressed in a memorial ceremony in Tibnine , in presence of religious figures, social and security dignitaries.

A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - PSP in defense of student-protesters
 

Sun 11/03/2012 17:09

NNA - 11/03/2012 - Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) came out in support of Kataeb/National Liberal protesters saying they preserved full right in expressing their opinion as stipulated under the Lebanese Constitution, laws, bylaws, norms and democratic traditions.

Regardless of the nature of political slogans under which students marched, they enjoyed full right to free self-expression in exactly the same way rival demonstrations were allowed to march off peacefully last week the PSP argued.

The PSP duly urged police and security to offer protection to demonstrators as a most convenient framework for free political expression in pursuit of perfectly legitimate agendas.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mansour welcomes Russian initiative over Syria
 

Sun 11/03/2012 15:49

NNA - 11/03/2012 - Lebanese Minister for Expatriates and Foreign Affairs Adnan Mansour welcomed the Russian diplomatic initiative to defuse the Syrian unrest saying it was part and parcel of the original Lebanese position.

The Minister's statement came in the wake of his official visit to Cairo where he partook in the Arab Foreign Ministers' meeting over the Syrian crisis. Minister Mansour told waiting newsmen that his meeting with Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, revealed Russian-Lebanese seeing eye-to-eye over the unrest.

He reiterated Russian support over Syrian saying it concurred with the Arab League stand. The Minister noticed retraction in the official Arab stand toward the Asad regime saying Arabs were now more interested in passing relief to the Syrian people rather than effecting regime change.

He revealed a deal in the making between the Arab League and the Russians saying agreement focused mainly on 5 points.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Daouk: a temporary, optional law to organize and protect online media
 

Sun 11/03/2012 15:42

NNA - 11/03/2012 Minister of Information, Walid Daouk, told Tele Liban Sunday that the objective behind online media law-project is to provisionally organize and protect websites, pending a large scale comprehensive media law.

The Minister proposed a temporary and optional law-project for online websites and media to legally organize the online sector, while the Telecom House Commission studied a more extensive law which was in the making, taking into consideration two proposals by MPs Ghassan Moukhaiber and Robert Ghanem, to be passed by the House.

"Once a website notifies the Information Ministry of its address, it's copyrights are automatically protected by the corresponding law," explained Daouk, adding that by limiting the issue to cabinet both speed and administrative organization were guaranteed.

The project-law protects freedom rather than limits it. However, the first article of the law prohibited online dissemination of gambling games and other subject-matter that violated public decency.

"The law affirms protecting both sides, the website for its content...and any person subjected to abuse by the site." The Minister added that either party can resort to court and enforce justice in accordance to printing and publication law.

Minister Daouk announced that the Council of Ministers agreed he join a commission studying a second project-law to be passed within two weeks.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Raad: Regional showdown is an illusion
 

Sun 11/03/2012 15:25

NNA - 11/03/2012 - Head of the Hizbullah Parliamentarian Bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, described all talk about a major showdown in the region as an illusion.

Addressing Hizbullah's teachers' organization at the Sebbah Secondary School in Nabattieh today, the deputy added that all illusions of major confrontation between Israel backed by the US and Iran have collapsed.

He blamed certain Lebanese protagonists of bidding on such illusions saying the collapse of the regime in Syria was not imminent.

The MP decided to leave the door open for any future rapprochement with the opposition. He told them that they might as well redress their options and under such an event, the Party would accommodate them as real partners in concerning for the country including safeguarding its future.

With respect to the 16 billion dollars in accumulated public debt, he regarded that any compromise as to how they were spent require an identification of the culprit since in his words, this was tantamount to wasting public expenditure.

He criticized Arab Spring for its spontaneity saying movements in the Arab World did not establish viable states. On the other hand, he described present unrest in Syria as benefiting Israel and the United States. In short, he blamed it all on the US-Zionist conspiracy as he called it.

The Deputy challenged so-called Arab democrats to begin with themselves rather than arming Syrian bandits to topple the regime. Raad reiterated the viability of his party's line of resisting Israel and saying no to America.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Qaouq: U.S. Embassy; anti-Asad spy-nest!
 

Sun 11/03/2012 15:12
NNA - 11/03/2012 - Leading Hizbullah cleric Nabil Qaouq described the U.S. Embassy in Awkar as an anti-Asad spy-nest and a launching pad of anti-regime military operations.

Addressing a party funeral ceremony in the southern Lebanese village of Babliyyeh today, the senior Hizbullah cleric told supporters that all anti-Asad conspirators misfired in striving to topple the Syrian regime only to find themselves retracting from their misadventure.

He attributed Lebanese immunity to any probable Syrian fallout to Mikati government's correct decision to keep aloof and out of the present unrest. Qaouq credited his party with keeping Israel at bay rather than allowing it to take advantage of the Syrian situation in order to make up for unprecedented defeats as he said.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved
 


Politics - State fears the strong, oppresses the peaceful - Zahra
 

Sun 11/03/2012 13:33

NNA - 11/03/2012 Lebanese Forces (LF) MP Antoine Zahra described clash between students protesting new history textbook and security forces as a deja vu of days of Syrian custodianship in Lebanon, and indicative of current cabinet's oppression of peaceful democracy seekers, as he represented LF Leader during a dinner in south Lebanon Saturday night.

Students from the National Liberal Party and Kataeb rallied Saturday in Down Town Beirut against new history curriculum, saying it omits key events in the country's past, including several incidents that took place during the 1975-1990 civil war and the Cedar Revolution of 2005 that drove Syrian forces out of Lebanon after the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri. The protest was met with aggression by Internal Security Forces members, escalating into a clash which injured a number of men on both sides.

"These methods were supposed to have gone with the tyrannical regime that was ousted...Freedom in Lebanon should not be subject to repression."

Zahra concluded that with a government that acted as mercenary for the Syrian regime, one has no choice but to continue with the Cedar Revolution in order to apply law and constitution and build a strong and democratic state.

R.Z.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Charbel in Tunisia for Arab Interior Ministers' conference
 

Sun 11/03/2012 13:07

NNA - 11/03/2012 - Minister of the Interior and Municipal Affairs, Marwan Charbel, arrived in Tunis on head of a delegation comprised of top police brass and senior aides. The Minister is to attend the 29th round of Arab Interior Ministers meeting in Tunis.

Conference would get underway on March 14 with Charbel expected to meet with his Tunisian counterpart Ali Al-Arid tomorrow Monday.

Earlier, Minister Charbel regarded the framework of Arab Interior Ministers appropriate for bolstering comprehensive Arab security in the hope of immunizing the Arab World in the face of mounting challenges.

He noted the rise of criminality stressing that joint Arab action would be prone to defuse this problem.

Among other things, Minister Charbel urged the promotion of technical and scientific knowhow at the disposal of security systems.

He concluded that Arab security cooperation is liable to bring about social and economic stability in the Arab world.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Siniora: No compromises over financial files!
 

Sun 11/03/2012 12:35

NNA - 11/03/2012 - Head of the pro-Hariri (Future) parliamentarian Bloc Fouad Siniora, rejected out-of-hand any compromises regarding contested financial files.

Siniora's rejection came before interlocutors coming to see him today at his Hlaliyyeh office. The ex-PM reiterated firm belief in capital punishment meted to whoever is found in flagrant violation of the law. He duly urged the state to act firmly with them.

Siniora attributed the current wave of crimes rocking the country, to what he termed as "progressive disintegration of state-power and dwindling prestige let alone the proliferation of illegal weapons."

Commenting on al-Moustaqbal-Future Bloc's so-called "working Document" he underscored need for reaching out for the rival camp in a bid to re-launch national dialogue as he said. Siniora concluded that by fielding this document, his Future Bloc was sounding in fact the alarm over the seriousness of the present political juncture.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Chamoun: Protesters did not threaten civil peace
 

Sun 11/03/2012 12:09

NNA - 11/03/2012 - The leader of National Liberal Party (NLP), MP Dory Chamoun, condemned during an interview Sunday attack by Internal Security Forces (ISF) on demonstrators protesting against new history textbook.

Clashes broke out Saturday between students belonging to the Kataeb Party and NLP and security forces during a demonstration in downtown Beirut against content of new Lebanese history textbook. Five demonstrators and four members of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) were injured, media said.

The MP said that the protesters did not threaten civil peace, believing that the responsibility fell on an ISF officer who refrained from ordering his soldiers to stop the violence.

Chamoun noted that Lebanon has not advanced in the past 64 years in respect to freedom of opinion.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hezbollah condemns killing of Palestinian leader
 

Sun 11/03/2012 11:45

NNA - 11/03/2012 Hezbollah issued a statement Sunday strongly denouncing the assassination of Palestinian leader Zuheir Queisi by Israeli forces.

The Popular Resistance Committees' Secretary-General was killed by Israel Air Force strike on Palestinian targets in Gaza on Friday. Queisi's organization was responsible for the capture of former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier Gilad Shalit. The strike also targeted Queisi's assistant Mahmoud Hanani.

"The assassination�occurs in the absence of Arab follow-up on Zionist terrorism," read Hezbollah's statement, which went on to accuse some Arabs of collaborating with the Zionist project to create more enemies for Arabs and weaken the Palestinian cause.
R.Z.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Al-Rai: Maronite Church is of Arab identity
 

Sat 10/03/2012 22:10

NNA - 10/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Bshara Butros Al-Rai stressed the need for solving all disputes and conflicts through settlements, with no side overriding the other. He pointed, herein, to the Lebanese haphazard war experience which yielded nothing but victims and suffering. He, thus, called on the entire Arab world to come together for implanting peace in its various regions. He also stressed on the Arab nature of the Maronite Church and its important role in the rise and civilization of people of this region. "The Maronites can only find their true existence in this part of the world," noted Al-Rai.
He also highlighted the need for Christian-Muslim cooperation, which would allow the Arab world the chance to play its role through its unity. "How great it is for each human to live in friendship with all humans," said Al-Rai, encouraging all people in the Arab world to work together towards preserving their mutual heritage.
Al-Rai's words came during the luncheon banquet held in his honor Saturday by Lebanon's Ambassador to Amman, Charbel Aoun.
Al-Rai later headed a mass service at Saint Charbel Church, during which he raised prayers in partnership and kindness for the people of Jordan and the Lebanese community residing there.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Meqati meets with Lebanon's Ambassador to Syria
 

Sat 10/03/2012 19:31

NNA - 10/3/2012 - Prime Minister, Najib Meqati, met Saturday at the Grand Serail with Lebanese Ambassador to Syria, Michel Khoury.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Meqati follows-up on 'Riyad Solh Square' dispute
 

Sat 10/03/2012 18:48

NNA - 10/3/2012 - Prime Minister, Najib Meqati, follow-ed up Saturday on details concerning the dispute that occurred at Riyad Solh Square in Beirut Central District between security forces members and a number of students earlier today. The incident took place during a demonstration organized by the Kataeb and National Liberals Political Parties, which led to a number of casualties.
In this context, Meqati contacted Interior and Municipalities Minister, Marwan Charbel, who briefed him on details of the incident, which occurred as members of the internal security forces were trying to carry out their duties in preserving citizens' security and safety.
Meqati also contacted MP Sami Gemayel, expressing dismay for what happened. It was agreed that a student delegation would visit PM Meqati upcoming Tuesday at the Grand Serail, in order to state their demands regarding the "History Book" within the Lebanese scholastic program.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Al-Rai patronizes laying the corner stone of Saint Maroun's Church
 

Sat 10/03/2012 18:33

NNA - 10/3/2012 - Pursuing his parish visit to Jordan, Maronite Patriarch Bshara Butros Al-Rai patronized Saturday laying the corner stone of Saint Maroun's Church on a land provided by the Jordanian Monarchy.
Following his prayers of gratitude to the Lord, Al-Rai hailed the Jordanian King Abdallah II for his kind initiative, which will definitely serve to boost the strong relation between the Patriarchate and the Kingdom, Al-Rai noted. Al-Rai raised prayers for the Jordanian Kingdom's long-lasting success, especially that it has provided a haven for sacred sites. He called for pursuing efforts, both Christian and Muslim, along the path of building such a great civilization.
Al-Rai also attended a luncheon banquet held in his honor by Lebanese Ambassador to Jordan, Charbel Aoun, in presence of a number of political and religious figures.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Gemayel: 'Qornet Shehwan Gathering' laid the foundation for the Cedars' Revolution
 

Sat 10/03/2012 18:05

NNA - 10/3/2012 - Kataeb Party Head, former President Amine Gemayel, considered that the "Qornet Shehwan Gathering" laid the foundation for the Cedar's Revolution and all the national accomplishments that followed as a result. He reminded herein of the four years that witnessed the Gathering's efforts exerted in trying to solve the pressing fateful issues that posed a threat to the future of Lebanon. He hailed the cooperation and solidarity of members of said Gathering, even in the most difficult stages.
Gemayel's words came during the luncheon banquet held at his Bikfaya residence Saturday in honor of Antelias Maronite Parish Head, Bishop Youssef Bshara, in presence of Deputies Butros Harb, Streida Geagea and Farid Habib. A number of former deputies and members of the "Qornet Shehwan Gathering" also attended the luncheon event.
Gemayel quoted Bishop Bshara as saying that the value of a human lies in his own being and in his achievements. He praised herein the many contributions of Bishop Bshara at the national level.
In turn, Bishop Bshara expressed his sincere gratitude for Gemayel's kind gesture, considering Saturday's organized luncheon as a tribute to all members of the Qornet Shehwan Gathering as well, and in memory of the late martyrs Pierre Gemayel, Gebran Toueini, Antoine Ghanem and Nassib Lahoud. Bshara also praised the constructive cooperation existing between the Church and Qornet Shehwan, which denoted a first defense line for all national and sovereign issues in the country.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (update) Berri addressing Lebanese Scouts
 

Sat 10/03/2012 15:40

NNA - 10/03/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri, met Saturday in Ain Teeneh, with newly elected head of Lebanese Scouts Nabil Baydoun and head of the Arab Scout Committee Youssef Khadaj.

Berri discussed with interlocutors the importance of scouts and their mission and reportedly boarded with them prospective activities.

Berri highly commanded Lebanese scouts for setting the high example for others to follow i.e. by belonging to all religious sects of Lebanon.

A leading delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate Advisory Body led by cabinet minister Nikola Nahhas, reportedly told Speaker Berri that today's visit purpose is to bolster Greek Orthodox standing with all three presidents.

Head of the Jesuit University, Rene Chammousi and a number of professors, extended an invitation to Speaker Berri to attend the inauguration of a new faculty for languages on April 26.

Among Ain Teeneh visitors, has been Minister of Culture Gaby Layyoun who conducted with Berri a horizons inspection tour.

 

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Politics - Berri addressing Lebanese Scouts
 

Sat 10/03/2012 15:30

NNA - 10/03/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri, met Saturday in Ain Teeneh, with newly elected head of Lebanese Scouts Nabil Baydoun and head of the Arab Scout Committee Youssef Khadaj.

Berri discussed with interlocutors the importance of scouts and their mission and reportedly boarded with them prospective activities.

Berri highly commanded Lebanese scouts for setting the high example for others to follow i.e. by belonging to all religious sects of Lebanon.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved





 

Politics - Baabda Itinerants Today
 

Sat 10/03/2012 14:46

NNA - 10/03/2012 - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman reiterated before interlocutors coming to see him at Baabda Palace today, that whoever chooses to tamper with public health must be deprived of any protection and ought to be made to pay dearly for their crime.

Sleiman and, in a clear reference to the imported expired meat scandal told Prosecutor-General for Appeal judge Sa'eed Mirza that men of law and all those involved in law-enforcement must be ready to crackdown mercilessly on law-breakers who must be made to stand trial for crimes perpetrated against public health of the consumer.

The president who was duly briefed by judge Mirza over the imported expired meat scandal issued what amounted to an expressed order to him for a major crackdown on the criminals who need not to be excused in anyway what-so-ever.

Hanchak party head Alexi Kotcharian and 2 polit-bureau members reviewed with the president essentially "undisclosed" domestic agendas.

Head of the Fouad Shehab Foundation Shafic Moharram extended an invitation to the present on April 24 to mark the ex-president's anniversary at UNESCO along with a book-signing ceremony about his life and career. Sleiman seemed fully agreed with Moharram over the need for turning Shehab's home into a museum open to the public.

Head of the Pilots' Syndicate Fadi Khalil, presented the president with a number of demands pertaining to long-standing disputes between pilots and the national airline M.E.A.

G.G./R.K.

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Politics - Geagea pays tribute to Alain Juppe
 

Sat 10/03/2012 14:43

NNA - 10/03/2012 - Commander of the Lebanese forces Samir Geagea, paid tribute to French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe in a message today for his recent supportive positions regarding oriental Middle-Eastern Christians.

Geagea underscored necessity for Christians in the region to bring down the wall of fear in order to re-assume their original role of consolidating democracy and liberty in their respective home countries.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Rahi, Masri tackle Arab Christians' immigration
 

Fri 9/03/2012 22:55

NNA - 9/3/2012 Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi met on Friday evening with Head of Arab Gathering for Confronting Arab Christian Immigration Taher Masri, at the Maronite Patriarchal Deputy headquarters in Jordan. Talks reportedly touched on issues related to Arab Christians' immigration.

Masri said that Jordan's Command is wise and moderate and shall not allow any fanatic intervention to leave impact on the spirit of coexistence and loving between Muslims and Christians.

Patriarch Rahi is currently on a pastoral visit to Jordan, whereby he visited on Friday a number of Catholic, Orthodox and Latin churches.

On the other hand, Rahi met with Fatah Movement Central Committee member Abbas Zaki who said that they tackled the current developments at the Palestinian level, with emphasis on rejection of Palestinian implantation in Lebanon. Talks also dwelt on the current situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and bilateral relations.
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Politics - Rahi pursues pastoral visit to Jordan
 

Fri 9/03/2012 22:06

NNA - 9/3/2012 Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi said that the Arab world is the land of peace, loving and brotherhood, stressing that we, in the entire Arab world, carry one fate and concern and thus should cooperate and work hand in hand in the face of violence and war.

Patriarch Rahi pursues his pastoral visit to Jordan, whereby he visited on Friday a number of Catholic, Orthodox and Latin churches in the area of Al-Fheiss, accompanied by Jordanian Kingdom Representative Akl Baltaji and Lebanon's Ambassador to Jordan Charbel Aoun.

"We are one family... carrying one concern and one fate and our cooperation [among Arab countries] should continue," Rahi said, stressing the importance of exerting all possible efforts to cast aside violence and disputes from our nations.
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Politics - Aseiri stresses KSA's support to Lebanon from new Batroun Highway
 

Fri 9/03/2012 20:44

NNA - 9/3/2012 Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Aseiri stressed Saudi Arabia's support to Lebanon, saying his Country expected nothing in return except Lebanon's progress and prosperity.

Ambassador Aseiri's words came during a ceremony held at "Batroun Village Club" in Batroun, in honor of main contributors in the accomplishment of Batroun-Tannourine Highway, organized by the Union of Batroun Caza Municipalities, Mayoral League and Development Council.

Aseiri stressed KSA's continued support to Lebanon and the completion of the remaining part of Batroun-Tannourine Highway upon the request of Batroun deputies Boutros Harb and Antoine Zahra. He disclosed that the Kingdom allocated USD15 million for the completion of the said highway stretching from Bajderfal to the city of Batroun.

Attending the ceremony has been a great number of local dignitaries and officials, notably deputies Boutros Harb and Antoine Zahra, former deputies Menwal Younis and Sayed Akl and National News Agency Director Mrs. Laure Sleiman Saab.

In his delivered word, MP Zahra called for positive competition in accomplishing projects to the area of Batroun. He also called for the implementation of administrative decentralization whereby everyone carries out his proper responsibility.

Speaking on the occasion, MP Harb said that he belongs to a school that upholds the culture of respecting the opinion of the other regardless of political differences. "We do not belong to a school which considers anyone who opposes it in politics as being traitor, thief or robber," Harb said.
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Politics - Mansour heads to Cairo to partake in Arab Foreign Ministers meeting
 

Fri 9/03/2012 19:20

NNA - 9/3/2012 Foreign and Expatriates Minister Adnan Mansour headed Friday evening to Cairo to partake in Arab Foreign Ministers' regular meeting, which shall take place at Arab League headquarters. The meeting will discuss the current developments in the region.

Minister Mansour will also partake in the meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Arab Foreign ministers, to discuss the Syrian issue and the Russian Minister's proposals in this regard.
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Politics - Pharaoun discusses election law with March 14 MPs
 

Fri 9/03/2012 18:32

NNA - 09/03/2012 - Deputy Michel Pheraon received on Friday at his office in Ashrafieh deputies Nadim Gemayel, Serj Tersarkissian, Ziad Qaderi and Ahmad Fatfat and discussed with them issues pertaining to the law of parliamentary elections in 2013.
Fatfat said after the meeting that talks focused on promoting the Christian representation at the House of Parliament.

Pharaoun, for his part, said 2009's electoral law was adopted after a consensus among political sides in Doha conference in 2008. Pharaoun pointed to some required law amendments to ameliorate the Christian representation at the House of Parliament.
 

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Politics - Mansour contacts Syria's Mouallem, says situation positive
 

Fri 9/03/2012 17:17
NNA - 09/03/2012 - Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Adnan Mansour, contacted on Friday his Syrian Counterpart, Walid Mouallem, who told him that the situation in Syria was positive.

The phone conversation between both men featured high on the situation in unrest-swept Syria, but Mouallem assured Mansour that the situation was heading towards becoming "normal".

"We also discussed the United Nation's envoy, Kofi Anan's anticipated visit to Damascus tomorrow. Mouallem relayed Damascus's welcoming position with regard to the UN's representative visit to Syria," a statement by Mansour read.
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Politics - Mansour touts expatriates' role portraying Lebanon's worldwide image
 

Fri 9/03/2012 16:50

NNA - 9/03/2012 - Lebanon demonstrates enormous human and strategic potential as displayed by its huge Diaspora abroad, Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Adnan Mansour said on Friday, hoping that Lebanese expatriates would assume a pertinent role in deepening relations between their motherland and their host countries.

Marking "International Expatriate Day", the History department of the Holy Spirit University - Kaslik, inaugurated today an international conference titled "Lebanon's existence worldwide", under the patronage of President Michel Sleiman, represented by Minister Mansour.

"The widely spread human potential Lebanon enjoys all over the world adds up to its fortunes and strategic reserves. Lebanon enjoys great prospective at various economic, financial, media, political, intellectual, and educational levels," Mansour told an audience of Ambassadors, political and religious figures, and magnates.

Those factors have played an essential role in serving Lebanon and supporting its causes at the international scene, added Mansour.

Dating Lebanon's wide spread political, economic, and cultural existence back to the year 600 BC, the minister thanked the many grand civilizations that exported the Lebanese culture to the Western world.

"This is how Lebanon is depicted in old history; an example of construction, development, liberation, and education," the Minister said.

Moreover, Mansour said that Lebanese expatriates should join ranks and garner efforts away from political polarizations, thus fortify Lebanon's relation with their host countries.

As for Lebanon's long-awaited efforts to engage expatriates in Parliamentary elections the Minister said, "the Lebanese cabinet has ensured [expatriates] with all the required facilities in order to successfully involve them in the forthcoming parliamentary elections," the Minister said, considering this a much-needed step to engage expatriates in the Lebanese political life and in running national affairs.
 

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Politics - Kahwaji, Plumbly meet
 

Fri 9/03/2012 14:56

NNA - 9/3/2012 - Lebanese Army Chief, General Jean Kahwaji, on Friday received the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, with whom he tackled general topics.
D.K.

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Politics - Geagea reiterates objection to illegitimate arms
 

Fri 9/03/2012 14:44

NNA - 9/3/2012 - Weapons outside state's legitimacy tamper with coexistence, the Lebanese Forces party Head Samir Geagea said during the dinner banquet held by the LF in honor of Baabda municipalities' heads and mayors.

Geagea who reiterated the importance of limiting weapons to the military institution and the legitimate Security Forces, considered that "each security decision made by illegitimate sides strikes conviviality."

The LF leader highlighted the need for unifying ranks to bring the country to its eventual goal.

"We surely disagree in approaching country's matters, yet this should not ruin our clinging to the ultimate cause," he avowed.

Geagea who saluted the dinner guests, on top of whom the Druze attendees, hoped that the next gathering be an opportunity to bring together all the mayors of the suburb region which he deemed as "a very dear section of Baabda and Beirut."

"Unfortunately, some have turned this area into a part of Tehran and Damascus," Geagea regretted.

The Lebanese Forces chief did not fail to remind the audience that the conviviality he sought could not be achieved through political speeches.

"It is a matter of daily deeds," he remarked, saying we as Lebanese ought to implement the Taef agreement and the constitution, particularly when it comes to addressing the electoral law issue, for, as Geagea believes, elections must be fair and representing to all Lebanese factions.

Pertaining to the lands selling issue, Geagea explained that these deals were made with questionable amounts of money.

"We do not reject swapping between Lebanese Christians and Muslims, yet we refuse premeditated deals," Geagea said in this regard, assuring that the only solution is to let municipalities' officials sort out this matter.

As for latest regional developments, Geagea considered the Arab spring as conceptual par excellence, regretting all the controversy prevailing over the Lebanese inside regarding this issue.

"Despite the hindrances and challenges, we will keep supporting Arab spring and democracy till the end," he promised.

Responding to those who wondered what would be the fate of Christians in the region after the collapse of the Syrian regime, Geagea argued that Christians in Syria were deprived of their freedom and their dignity. He also reminded that the Syrian regime was behind the assassination of many Lebanese leaders such as Minister Kamal Jumblatt, President Bashir Gemayel, Sheikh Hassan Khaled, and President Renee Mouawad, refusing to anticipate the decisions of the international tribunal pertaining to the other assassinations of Lebanese figures.
D.K.

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Politics - Makari: Aoun does not seek solutions
 

Fri 9/03/2012 13:17


NNA - 9/3/2012 Deputy Speaker Farid Makari Friday said Change and Reform bloc head MP Michel Aoun does not seek solving spending issue so that he would keep pretending reforms and use this matter for political outbidding.

In his words delivered to Al-Massira magazine to be published tomorrow, Makari said most of the government's parties are not concerned in realizing Lebanon's interest but worry about how to achieve their own interests.

On the Syrian refugees' level, he said that government's natural stance should project from a humanitarian obligation for "Lebanon has always been a haven for tyrannized people in the Arab world."

"Everyone is welcomed provided that they respect our rules, do not tamper with our security and stability and do not carry weapons," Makari said and stressed that receiving refugees is a moral obligation and does not connote any interference in Syrian affairs.

Pertaining to the Maronite Patriarch stances on Syria, Makari refused to give any comments herein and said that oppression and massacres in Syria shall do and no one might disagree about Syrian regime's irrelevancy with democracy.
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Politics - Cabinet empowers Mikati to prepare solution for budget accounts
 

Fri 9/03/2012 13:12

NNA - 9/3/2012 - Information Minister Walid Daouk told reporters that the Cabinet has designated Prime Minister Najib Mikati to prepare a draft proposal to end the logjam over the controversial budget accounts.

"After listening to different views, the Cabinet agreed to let Mikati prepare a formula for the accounts from 2006 till 2010 and then submit them to the Cabinet in the next session," Daouk said.

The minister added that the Cabinet also denounced the mistreatment of an Ethiopian housekeeper in the street and demanded that this case be referred to the concerned judicial authorities.

"Among the main decisions reached by the Cabinet is to assign PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit all the accounts and budgets from 1993 till 2010," Daouk said.

The Cabinet also approved the Ministry of Energy and Water Strategy for the water sector.

Mikati has called for another Cabinet session on Wednesday at the Baabda Presidential Palace.

In the statement read to reporters, the minister indicated that the President of the Republic Michel Sleiman and the Cabinet have underscored the need to prevent arms smuggling and prohibit all types of military and security gatherings in Lebanon.

He added that the Cabinet refused to turn Lebanon into a launching pad for military operation.

The Cabinet emphasized the need to enhance cooperation and coordination between all security apparatus and exchange all information.

The military and security officers briefed the Higher Defense Council about the measures adapted along the border with Syria.

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Politics - FPM denounces extremist practices
 

Fri 9/03/2012 12:03

NNA - 9/3/2012 - The Free Patriotic Movement Friday sternly rejected all kinds of extremism practices, rejection of others, and imposing a sole personal opinion on the account of diversity.

During the movement's periodical gathering the Beirut body held in presence of Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui, FPM heeded transferring Beirut into an arena to involve Lebanon in the policy of axes and thus, strike the country's stability.

At greater length, FPM extolled Lebanese army's endeavors to preserving security and uttered hopes not to have extremist rallies reoccur (the anti-Syrian regime sit-in organized in Beirut's Martyrs Square by Salafist Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir).

Pertaining to the Future movement manifesto launched on Wednesday, FPM hailed what the document included of items on coexistence and parity, and hoped Future movement would put such statements into action.
L.W.
 

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Politics - Khazen: Government spending from swapping to compromise
 

Fri 9/03/2012 11:36


NNA - 9/3/2012 - Change and Reform bloc member, Deputy Farid Khazen, said the extra budgetary spending matter was taking an unconstitutional course as it had turned from swapping to compromise while it actually should have been following legal measures as long as each camp was sure of its accounts.

He considered, in his talk show with the Voice of Lebanon, that the proposal of Finance Minister Muhammad Safadi was illegal as it should include a breakdown of accounts.

On another note, Khazen ruled out the possibility of Jabhat Al-Nidal's Ministers' resignation from the cabinet, expecting the government's situation to remain unchanged despite the divergence in viewpoints over current matters.
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Politics - Karami: No new government turbulences
 

Fri 9/03/2012 11:29
NNA - 9/3/2012 - Youth and Sports Minister Faysal Karami Friday affirmed that no new governmental shocks are to be registered especially that an agreement has been reached over the spending issue.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio, the Minister unveiled that meetings took place yesterday to delay discussions on Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi's project in order to come up with adequate and logical solutions to preserve public funds.
L.W.
 

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Politics - Jarrah: solutions for extra budgetary spending viable
 

Fri 9/03/2012 11:19

NNA - 9/3/2012 - Deputy Jamal Jarrah on Friday said the projects submitted for solving the extra budgetary spending issue are viable.

Jarrah told the Voice of Lebanon - Voice of Dignity and Freedom that March 14 forces were ready to cooperate with the government's project on financial spending in case both the $11 billion and the LL 8.9 trillion were merged.

"March 14 will participate in the legislative session scheduled on March 15 if the cabinet Okayed the extra budgetary spending law draft," he said.
D.K.

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Politics - Jeser: For accounts' breakdown as per equality
 

Fri 9/03/2012 11:18


NNA - 9/3/2012 - MP Samir Jeser Friday stressed the need to opt for equality principle concerning accounts' breakdown issue which was proposed by the Change and Reform bloc.

"This is the condition upon which projects ought to pass in the Cabinet's General Assembly," Future bloc member said.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon radio, Jeser voiced rejection to allowing Syrian armed persons enter Lebanese borders.

"Every Syrian refugee ought to hand over his weapons before entering Lebanon because the country can no longer bear any further repercussions to Syrian situations," he concluded.
L.W.

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Politics - Bassil: Efforts aim at preserving independence
 

Fri 9/03/2012 11:02

NNA - 9/3/2012 - Water and Energy Minister Gibran Bassil Friday said the Lebanese have achieved Lebanon's sovereignty and independence thanks to the martyrs.

Minister Bassil spoke during the inauguration of the Batroun- Bejdarfil- roundabout and unveiling ceremony of the Lebanese army martyrs' memorial tablet.

The ceremony took place in presence of MP Sleiman Franjieh representative as well as other ranking social and political figures.

Bassil voiced appreciation for all those who contributed to the accomplishment of the roundabout and pledged carrying out developmental projects in Batroun as well as all Lebanese regions.
L.W.

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Politics - Cabinet convenes at Baabda

Fri 9/03/2012 10:52


NNA - 9/3/2012 - Lebanese cabinet convened on Friday at 9:00 am at Baabda Palace chaired by President Michel Sleiman, in presence of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and ministers.

The cabinet will discuss 30 articles on its agenda among them the cabinet spending draft law compromise, in addition to crucial issues that need quick and appropriate decisions.


A closed door meeting between Sleiman and Mikati took place to discuss recent developments.

Agriculture Minister Husein Hajj Hasan said before the cabinet session that they discussed on Thursday the settlement of draft law of cabinet spending during meetings and contacts, adding that "today the result will be shown in the cabinet 's session".

On the other hand, Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi said that every team proposes a draft law, stressing that "the project which I have proposed on the cabinet's agenda to be discussed in today's session".

Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil pointed out that "there will be a discussion of Safadi's draft and I think it will undergo some amendments".

Energy and Water Minister Jebran Bassil said that "what other previous cabinets did not achieve in terms of breaking down of account we will try to achieve it.

State Minister Marwan Kheir eddine confirmed before holding the cabinet's session that there is another proposal based on the legislation of spending to be later referred to the Audit Bureau , stressing that "Safadi's project will not pass without amendments".

Justice Minister Chakib Qortbawi spoke about appointing a chairman for the Higher Judiciary Council, stressing that one name should be proposed not three.



A.A.M

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Politics - Rahi arrives in Jordan and underscores peace
 

Fri 9/03/2012 10:17

NNA - 9/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi arrived last night to Amman where he was received at the airport by a high ranking Jordanian delegation along with the Vatican's ambassador to Jordan.

Rahi's first stop was in Saint Charbel Church in Amman where religious mass was held.

Rahi, who is accompanied by a church delegation in addition to Lebanese officials, expressed deep regret over the difficult conditions some of the Arab countries are passing through which caused the fall of innocent victims.

He hoped that a solution to these conflicts can be found soon, stressing that violence and military options will not solve the problems facing some Arab countries.

The Patriarch hailed the reform measures adopted by the Jordanian kingdom thanks to the wisdom of King Abdullah and his assistants.

He also paid tribute to all the Muslim and Christian political and religious figures in Jordan.

Rahi conveyed the worm greetings of the President of the Republic Michel Sleiman and former Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir to the Jordanian officials.

He reiterated that only through peace and partnership can allow the human race to coexist in harmony.

Jordan's Christian religious figures told the patriarch that three percent of Jordan's Christians control 35 percent of the country's economy.

O.H

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Politics - Cabinet convenes at Baabda
 

Fri 9/03/2012 09:46

NNA - 9/3/2012 - Lebanese cabinet convened on Friday at 9:00 am at Baabda Palace chaired by President Michel Sleiman, in presence of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and ministers with 30 articles on its agenda.
The cabinet will also discuss the spending issue.

A.A.M

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Politics - Sleiman meets Mikati

Fri 9/03/2012 09:10

NNA - 9/3/2012 - President Michel Sleiman is currently meeting at Baabda Palace with Prime Minister Najib Mikati before the cabinet convenes.

Discussions are focusing on the general situation and latest developments.


A.A.M

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Politics - Defense Council underlines permanent cooperation among state institutions
 

Thu 8/03/2012 22:12

NNA - 8/3/2012 Supreme Defense Council underlined permanent and efficient cooperation among state judicial, diplomatic and security institutions in dealing with any incident or stringency, in line with laws and regulations in effect and general defense policy outlined in current government's ministerial statement.

Supreme Defense Council convened on Thursday afternoon at Baabda Palace, presided over by President Michel Sleiman, in presence of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Council members.

In the wake of the meeting, Council Secretary General Adnan Meraab said the Council boarded the general security situation in the Country and listened from heads of security and military apparatuses on the outcome of their missions which they undertook in the entire Lebanese territories and at the frontier areas.
Reading out Council statement, Meraab said that the Council expressed satisfaction regarding the security situation in general and adopted measures in this regards.

The Council also got briefings on the security situation in the South, underlining the continuation of cooperation with "UNIFIL" in implementation of UN resolution 1701.

The Council also allotted missions to security apparatuses and ministries, while keeping its adopted decisions confidential in line with law stipulations.

The meeting was preceded by a closed session between President Sleiman and Premier Mikati where they tackled the current developments in the Country.

On the other hand, Sleiman met with Environment Minister Nazem Khoury where they discussed the current situation and relevant ministerial projects, designed to preserve environment.

The President also met with Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan, on top of a delegation of the Ministry, who handed him a report on the already accomplished stages of agricultural strategy. The delegation also briefed him on the Ministry's future plan to bolster the agricultural situation in the country.
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Politics - Rahi arrives in Jordan on pastoral visit
 

Thu 8/03/2012 20:59

NNA - 8/3/2012 Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi arrived in Jordan on Thursday evening, within the framework of his pastoral visits to all Maronite perishes.

Welcoming Patriarch Rahi at Queen Alia Airport-Amman- have been Jordanian government's representative Akel Beltari, Lebanon's Ambassador to Jordan Charbel Aoun and senior bishops from Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine.

Opening up his pastoral visit, Rahi visited Saint Charbel Church in Telal Sabaa area in National Amman Park, whereby he received a wide popular reception organized by Royal Divan in cooperation with Religious Tourism Activation Body in Jordan.

Rahi left Beirut on Thursday afternoon, heading to Jordan on top of a senior bishop delegation.

Speaking to media representatives at International Rafic Hariri Airport, Rahi stressed that Arab youths' problems cannot be resolved through weapons, whereby violence only brings about violence without attaining fruitful results.

As such, Rahi called for resolving all standing problems through dialogue, agreement and settlements, indicating that no one can annul the other.

In reply to a question, Rahi said that Lebanon is an independent, free and sovereign country whose government decides what it deems suitable for the country's interest.
 

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Politics - Geagea, Jarrah meet over Mideast situation
 

Thu 8/03/2012 19:14

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Head of Lebanese Forces Party, Samir Geagea, on Thursday met with Future Deputy Jamal Jarrah over the ongoing situation in the unrest-swept Middle East region.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting in Maarab, Jarrah said "the entire region is currently witnessing the Arab Spring, which is quite similar to us as March 14 forces, considering that we went through the same stiff conditions, despotism, and criminality, wielded on the Lebanese throughout the Syrian tutelage period."

"It is the same stage the Syrian people and other Arabs are living nowadays. It is also similar to us considering the political aspirations claiming freedom, democracy, independence, the civil state, and the acknowledgement of pluralism," he said.

He made it clear that his camp had no concerns over such trends and changes. "We are instead upbeat on a new brightening future throughout the Arab arena."

Turning to the internal domestic scene, Jarrah explained that the spending in 2011 was similar to that from 2006 till 2010. He went on to say that the aforesaid spending obtained the approbation of the cabinet, the Court of Audit, and the concerned authorities.

"We have nothing to fear and we insist that auditing cover all the state's accounts since Taef Agreement and hitherto," he said.

Separately, Geagea received a delegation of LF Zahle and Central Bekaa committees, with talks featuring high on an array of party-related affairs.
 

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Politics - Ogassapian evokes Disappeared file in Geneva
 

Thu 8/03/2012 18:35

NNA - 08/03/2012 - Deputy Jean Ogassapian on Thursday visited the United Nations' headquarters in Geneva, where he held with Human Rights seniors a meeting to discuss the issue pertaining to Lebanese disappearing in Syria.

Ogassapian said there was a possibility to reach accurate details concerning the disappearing people, in light of information affirming the presence of Lebanese persons in Syria jails.

The UN promised to help solve this human issue.
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Politics - Siniora, Plumbly meet
 

Thu 8/03/2012 18:17

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Head of Future parliamentary bloc, MP Fouad Siniora, on Thursday met with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, over the current general situation and latest developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

The meeting took place at Siniora's office in Sadat Tower.
 

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Politics - Rahi leaves to Jordan
 

Thu 8/03/2012 18:14

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi on Thursday left Beirut heading to Jordan then to Qatar where he is scheduled to meet with senior officials in the context of his pastoral tour in both countries.

State Minister Selim Karam, representing Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Bishop Roland Abu Jaoudeh, former minister Wadih Khazen, Jordanian ambassador to Lebanon Ziad Majalli, and Qatari Charge D'Affaires Rashed Kwari, bid Rahi farewell at Beirut International Airport.

In response to a question about the US ambassador's request from Lebanese officials to receive members of the "free Syrian army," the Patriarch said "the Lebanese state does not need anyone to make its decisions." "The Lebanese state knows how to bear its responsibilities (...) we are an independent, free, and sovereign country and the government decides what it sees best for Lebanon."
 

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Politics - Higher Defense Council convenes in Baabda
 

Thu 8/03/2012 17:41

NNA - 8/3/2012 - The Higher Defense Council convened Thursday at Baabda presidential palace, under the chairmanship of Lebanese President, Michel Sleiman, and is reportedly skimming through an array of current affairs, mostly related to Lebanese-Syrian borders.

Premier Najib Mikati, Ministers of Defense Fayez Ghosn, Finance Mohammad Safadi, Foreign Affairs Adnan Mansour, Economy Nicolas Nahhas, Interior Marwan Charbel, Justice Shakib Qortbawi and Information Walid Douk attended the meeting.

Army Chief, General Jean Qahwaji, State Security Chief, Brigadier George Qaraa, General Security Director General, General Abbas Ibrahim, and a number of concerned officials also partook in the meeting, which decisions will be kept confidential.
 

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Politics - Sleiman, Mikati meet in Baabda
 

Thu 8/03/2012 16:39
NNA - 8/3/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, and Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, are currently meeting in Baabda presidential palace.

Both men are reportedly broaching the current general situation and most recent developments.
 

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Politics - Charbel, MPs broach developmental affairs
 

Thu 8/03/2012 16:19

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Marwan Charbel, on Thursday met with Member of Parliament Ziad Aswad and the Head of Jezzine District Municipalities Union, Khalil Harfouche, over an array of development-related affairs.

The Minister handed his visitors a complete and all-inclusive study on waste management.

Charbel later met with Deputies Simon Abi Ramia and Akram Shohayeb.

Talks reportedly touched on the current general situation and a spectrum of developmental affairs.

He also received Pharmacists Syndicate Head, Ziad Nassour, with talks focusing on the means to fight drugs.
 

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Politics - Nadim Gemayel from Audi's: Christians' role amidst region's turmoil must be supporting democracy
 

Thu 8/03/2012 15:55

NNA - 08/03/2012 - Deputy Nadim Gemayel said "the role that we, as Christians and Lebanese must play, whether on the local or the regional level, must be open-mindedness and supporting democracy and freedom."

Gemayel's words came from Beirut Greek Orthodox Bishopric in Ashrafieh where he visited Archbishop Elias Audi and discussed with him the local situation amidst the turmoil running on the regional level.

Audi also met at his Bishopric the Belgian Ambassador who had with the host talks relevant to the cultural face of Lebanon.
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Politics - Chamoun meets Plumbly: Lebanon must help Syrian citizens fleeing their country's crisis
 

Thu 8/03/2012 15:53

NNA - 08/03/2012 - Deputy Dory Chamoun said that Lebanon must never neglect a humane task like assisting the Syrian citizens fleeing their country due to the fatal situation therein.

Head of the National Liberal Party (NLP), Dory Chamoun, said on Thursday - upon meeting with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, at NLP's headquarters in Beirut - that every Lebanese citizen must do as much as he could to help those running away from the turmoil in their country, especially that the Lebanese had already suffered a similar situation in the past.
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Politics - Kahwaji's Thursday itinerants
 

Thu 8/03/2012 15:35
NNA - 08/03/2012 - Lebanese Army Commander, General Jean Kahwaji, tackled general developments on Thursday at his Yarzeh office with MP Kassem Abdul Aziz.

Kahwaji later held talks with Indian Charge D'affaires Bubash Kumar, who paid him a farewell visit upon winding up his mission in Lebanon.
R.H.

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Politics - Ghosn, Plumbly tackle developments
 

Thu 8/03/2012 15:22

NNA - 08/03/2012 - Most recent developments at the local and regional scenes topped talks on Thursday between National Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn and the United Nations Special Representative in Lebanon, Derek Plumbly.

The pair engaged in the prevailing situation in South Lebanon, as well as on ongoing cooperation between the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL. Talks also touched on means of monitoring the Lebanese-Syrian borders and the Lebanese Army's dauntless efforts to preserve Lebanon's security.

Ghosn separately met with the Danish Ambassador to Lebanon, Yan top Christensen, over means of boosting Lebanese-Danish bilateral relations. Christensen also relayed to Ghosn his country's support for the Lebanese Army.
R.H.

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Politics - Berri meets EU diplomat, MPs
 

Thu 8/03/2012 15:07

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, on Thursday met with EU ambassador to Lebanon, Angelina Eicchorst, over most recent developments.

Berri also received Head of the Finance and Budget legislative committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, as well as Deputy Yassine Jaber.

Talks featured high on the current general situation on the local domestic level.

The representative of the Shiite Supreme Council in Canada, Scholar Sayyed Nabil Abbas, had also been to Ain-el-Tineh today for a meeting with the Speaker.
 

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Politics - Mikati receives Pietton, Jreissati, Kanaan, others
 

Thu 8/03/2012 14:58

NNA - 08/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati received on Thursday at the Grand Serail the French Ambassador Denis Pietton, who described the Premier's recent visit to France as positive.

Pietton said that talks with the host focused on means of enhancing bilateral ties on the economic level, notably in the sectors of energy and transportation. Both also reviewed mutual relations in the cultural field.

Separately, Mikati received Labor Minister Salim Jreissati, accompanied by the director general of the Arab Labor Organization. Both reviewed ministerial affairs.

Deputy Ibrahim Kanaan, head of the Parliament Finance and Budget Committee, also visited the Grand Serail and discussed with Mikati matters related to pending financial files.

Amongst the Grand Serail's visitors have been the deputy head of Advertising Billboard Company Owner Syndicate, George Chahwan; former Minister Yaacoub Sarraf; Head of the Central Fund for Displaced Persons, Fady Aramouny; and Army Intelligence Department director, General Edmund Fadel.
A.M>

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Politics - Jumblatt, Juppe meet
 

Thu 8/03/2012 14:46

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Progressive Socialist Party Head, MP Walid Jumblatt on Thursday met with the French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe at the French Foreign Ministry in Paris, with talks featuring high on political developments in the Middle East.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Daouk to NNA says no specific diplomats implied in cabinet's "respect reminder"
 

Thu 8/03/2012 14:43

NNA - 08/03/2012 - The Council of Ministers did not intend to target any Ambassador in specific with its reminder to foreign envoys in Lebanon to respect diplomatic norms and agreements, Information Minister, Walid Daouk, told the National News Agency on Thursday.

Yesterday, the Lebanese Cabinet "reminded" foreign diplomats of their duty to stick to national and international laws governing the conduct of representatives of governments abroad, namely to 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Lebanese law and state institutions.

"We are keen on preserving the best of relations with Lebanon's friend and fraternal countries. Our position falls within a general frame and does not target any specific Ambassador or country," the Minister said in response to a question whether the aforementioned cabinet stance aimed to limit foreign diplomats' movement in Lebanon, and that of the US Ambassador in specific.

But Daouk also said that the cabinet's reminder had been sparked by foreign stances which had penetrated internal political debates.

"The last thing we need is some new tension factors mounting at the internal scene on top of the already existing prickly political tension and division over pending matters," said Daouk.

As for today's National Defense Council's meeting called forth by President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Minister made clear that it aimed at following up the prevailing security situation, especially with regard to the situation of Syrians fleeing their country's unrest into Lebanon.

The Defense Council will also be discussing borderline-related issues, as well as the means to augment stability in Lebanon in a bid to fend off the repercussions of foreign developments.

Lebanon's Cabinet also asked the Higher Defense Council during yesterday's session to probe allegations that members of Al-Qaeda were present in different Lebanese regions, Information Minister Walid Daouk said.
"Amid the grim prevailing circumstances being witnessed in the region, it is very normal to intensify senior-level meetings so as to adopt necessary measures and reassure the Lebanese about the internal situation," Daouk explained.

Touching on Lebanon's policy to dissociate itself from Syria-related decisions by the Arab League and International Security Council, the Minister touted this measure further by saying that it has contributed in safeguarding Lebanon and sparing it the trouble of interfering in affairs with intolerable ramifications.

"Especially that Lebanon suffers a sharp political rift with regard to many affairs, mostly those related to Syria," Daouk said in response to a question on whether Lebanon's dissociation stance was still valid in light of most recent developments in Syria.

"All what's required from us at the humanitarian level, dealing with Syrians in Lebanon, is being achieved to the fullest," he added, saying that the Lebanese state is also making sure it takes extreme measures to monitor the Lebanese-Syrian borders.

On a different note, Minister Daouk told NNA that the proposal made to organize electronic media in Lebanon had been withdrawn from the cabinet's agenda for further studies and amendments, to be later forwarded again to the Council of Ministers for discussions.
R.H.

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Politics - Kabalan: Lebanon heads toward stability
 

Thu 8/03/2012 14:17

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Deputy Head of the Islamic Shiite Supreme Council, Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan, tackled Thursday Lebanese-Greek ties during his meeting with the Ambassador of Greece to Lebanon, Catherine Bora.

Sheikh Kabalan wished the new Ambassador success in her mission for reactivating cooperation between the two countries, hoping that Greece would overcome its economic crisis as soon as possible.

"Lebanon heads towards stability owing to the Lebanese people's keenness on protecting their country," Kabalan assured, reminding that Lebanese rejected violence and clung to coexistence.
D.K.

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Politics - Plumbly meets Mansour: Security Council to tackle 1701
 

Thu 8/03/2012 13:53

NNA - 8/3/2012 UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Dereck Plumbly Thursday said the upcoming UN Security Council meeting, he shall be attending in New York, is scheduled to tackle Secretary General report on 1701 implementation.

During his meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour, Plumbly engaged in talks about latest repercussions of crisis in Syria and stressed the importance of the UN and Arab League's Envoy Kofi Annan.

"We hope this mission succeeds for it is very crucial to the entire region," Plumbly remarked.

Asked about Russia's participation in the upcoming Arab Foreign Ministers' gathering in Cairo, Plumbly said this ought to be important for "schisms in international community do not help in solving crisis."

On the occasion of Women's International Day, Plumbly expressed sincere admiration for women's accomplishments in Lebanon within cultural, business, and other domains.

"We hope to see more of women's participation and a larger representation in the political field," he noted.
L.W.

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Politics - Wehbe: Partiality to Arab Spring pro freedom
 

Thu 8/03/2012 13:50

NNA - 8/3/2012 MP Amine Wehbe Thursday said being biased to the Arab Spring connotes our bloc's favoritism to the principle of freedom.

"We definitely support the Syrian people in their freedom as this regime has never abandoned Lebanon for the most part in the formation of the current government," Future bloc member noted.

The MP told Future News TV channel that his bloc's manifesto revolves around principles but not around conditions.

Wehbe drew attention to the critical and worrying situation at the Lebanese-Syrian borders.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Safadi: Lebanese-Cypriot ties are based on mutual respect
 

Thu 8/03/2012 13:44

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Finance Minister Muhammad Safadi on Thursday said the ties which bond Lebanon and Cyprus together are based on mutual respect, common interest and firm will to enhance peace in the world, particularly in the Mediterranean basin.

Safadi made these remarks at the end of his official visit to Cyprus, upon the invitation of the Cypriot Minister of Finance, Kazamias Kikas, and the Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, basically aimed at reactivating ties at the political and economic levels.

The Minister mainly tackled with his counterpart means to develop common interests at various levels. The pair accordingly agreed on forming a joint committee of both countries' Foreign Ministries so as to exchange information and expertise in the field of financial and fiscal legislation, especially after the issuance of the oil law in the two countries, in preparation for the exploration works.

Safadi's talks with the Cypriot Foreign Minister largely focused on political affairs pertaining to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Discussions featured high on borders' demarcation between Lebanon and Cyprus.

Safadi confirmed in this regard that Lebanon firmly clings to its rights for water territories claimed by Israel.

The Cypriot Foreign Minister, whose country will be heading the European Union in June, assured that Cyprus will support the Lebanese stance before international forums.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi meets Hariri's advisor
 

Thu 8/03/2012 13:43

NNA - 8/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch, Bechara Boutros Rahi, on Thursday met with former Premier Saad Hariri's political advisor, Daoud Sayegh, with talks touching on general affairs.

Sayegh thanked Rahi, on behalf of Hariri, for dispatching a representative to participate in the March 14 ceremony aimed at issuing the Future Movement's manifesto.

Sayegh said he had sensed in the Patriarch a firm clinging to consent and unity amongst country's factions, assuring that he was above all political conflicts in accordance with the Maronite patriarchate's stances which hold on to national constants.

"His beatitude is fully aware of the current critical stage and of the role that ought to be played by the Lebanese for the sake of their unity, their values and their position in the region and the entire world," he remarked.

Separately, Patriarch Rahi received former Minister Charles Rizk with whom he discussed general situation.

At a different note, Patriarch Rahi will leave Beirut this afternoon heading to Jordan, then to Qatar on pastoral visits. The Patriarch will be back to Lebanon on March 13.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hajjar: Arab changes behind Future launching manifesto
 

Thu 8/03/2012 11:21

NNA - 8/3/2012 MP Mohammad Hajjar Thursday said all Arab region changes especially Syrian ones were the reason behind launching the Future movement manifesto.

"The document urges policies not to bet on outside forces," Future bloc member told Al-Fajer radio.

Asked about former premier Saad Hariri's attack campaign on Syria, the MP asserted that the Syrian regime will no longer remain the same.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Abi Ramiya: Safadi's project should be constitutional
 

Thu 8/03/2012 11:12

NNA - 8/3/2012 MP Simon Abi Ramiya Thursday said Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi's project on spending should be constitutional as it should tone with the public accountability law so it would pass in the Cabinet.

On the topic of administrative appointments MP stressed the need to proceed with this dossier without pausing at the post of chairmanship of the Higher Judicial Council.

Asked about the Future Movement manifesto presented yesterday, Abi Ramiya supported the item it included on openness policy and reach out to internal parties.

Future movement yesterday submitted a manifesto aiming at enriching dialogue between all the parties' supporting Arab people's rights to democracy and transfer of power.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Charbel: Defense Council to prevent armed Syrians access
 

Thu 8/03/2012 10:28

NNA - 8/3/2012 Interior Minister Marwan Charbel Thursday said the Higher Defense Council shall tackle in its session scheduled for today the prevention of armed Syrians from entering Lebanon and vice versa.

The Minister told Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio that locking borders in Aarida and Masnaa regions is "very difficult."

"No political decision has been yet taken to close down borders except in face of armed persons," he remarked.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Zahra: March 14 urges Army deployment on Lebanese-Syrian borders
 

Thu 8/03/2012 09:40

NNA - 8/3/2012 MP Antoine Zahra Thursday said Lebanese Army deployment on Lebanese-Syrian borders is what March 14 has been recommending for months.

Lebanese Forces bloc member warned of using the aforesaid call in order to forbid refugees, whose humanitarian and security conditions requires that they escape "the brutal murdering machine the Syrian regime controls," from entering Lebanon.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio, Zahra said controlling borders ought not to be done randomly in face of humanitarian cases but solely in face of armed people.

Furthermore, asked about the issue of spending outside the budget, Zahra remarked that the Free Patriotic Movement has put itself and the country in a deep hitch while insisting on uttering prejudices and pretending reforms to cover up breaches the movement's Ministers are committing.


L.W.
 

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Politics - Cabinet convenes, Mikati spurns strife-ridden rhetoric
 

Wed 7/03/2012 23:05

NNA - 07/03/2012 - The Council of Ministers convened in session at the Grand Serail on Wednesday, presided by Prime Minister Najib Mikati who called on Lebanon's political forces to rise up to their national responsibilities and shun strife-fomenting speeches.

Information Minister Walid Daouk relayed following the meeting the cabinet's affirmation with regard to the essential role played Lebanese security institutions in preserving the nation's security and safeguarding its borderlines.

Cabinet members also reminded diplomatic bodies working in Lebanon of the paramount importance of respecting "Vienna Agreement", Lebanese state institutions and laws, Daouk added.

During today's session, the cabinet approved the application of 200 Lebanese Army officer-students and 500 trainee officer-students at the General Security.

Among many other cabinet decisions today, an Italian grant worth the amount of 90,000 Euros had also been approved for the benefit of Faihaa Municipality.
R.H.

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Politics - Rahi launches women's pastoral office
 

Wed 7/03/2012 22:21

NNA - 07/03/2012 - Marking Women's International Day, Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al- Rahi, launched on Wednesday a women's pastoral office during a mass in Bkerke.

In his homily, the Patriarch spoke about the role women played in human life, saying that this new office had been established to serve woman and provide them with the support they needed.

"It aims to strengthen her presence within the family and the Church," Rahi said. "A woman gives freely without asking for anything in return. She is strong and always fights off difficulties," he added as quoting Pope John Paul II, who stressed that "when everything falls apart, a woman remains strong and robust."
R.H.

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Politics - Siniora reads out Future Movement document on Arab Spring
 

Wed 7/03/2012 19:28

NNA - 7/3/2012 Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora announced on Wednesday evening at the Center House the document entitled "The Future Movement and the Perspectives of the Arab Spring" in which he said "We consider the Arab change a period of maturity, and at the same time a new path, a challenge, and a chance. It is a chance because it places the Arab Nation, including us, at the gateway of a new future filled with the ambitions of our youth, to establish political regimes on the basis of the respect of rights and public freedoms, especially religious freedoms, of the safeguard of human dignity, and of justice and good management of the public affairs. It is a challenge for our ability as Lebanese citizens to review and criticize, to prepare for a moral, cultural, and political revival, to overcome (through enlightened thoughts and actions) the effects of the previous period, during which extremism, oppression and the politics of axis prevailed, an era that divided societies, and increased the rivalry between state and religion, and between societies and their authorities."
He added "The goal of this review, follow up, criticism and struggle is to preserve the unity of our society and its diversity, and the dignity of man in this time of change. Additionally, it would help start a common, comprehensive and advanced action on the national level with all social, cultural and political groups of Lebanon, to strengthen coexistence, and take it as well as the National Pact and the Constitution as starting points to improve public affairs, and allow our youth to participate in building their future, the future of Lebanon and all Arabs."
"The change ushered by Arab Youth is a long term democratic process, which goes beyond holding elections that result in a ruling majority .They are also a culture, enshrining full equality between all citizens, protecting public freedoms, respecting diversity, and the right to difference, and rejecting any monopoly from the part of a majority, whatever its nature," he said.
"In the Future Movement, we consider that the Arab Spring with its wide popular movement and effective ability to usher change in the Arab area and its neighborhood, represents a big chance for Lebanon, its citizens and state, to overcome challenges and dependences. But the strategic changes resulting from the Arab movements are not sufficient to strengthen Lebanese nationalism after all the defeats it faced. All Lebanese political sides should take part in the Arab change movement. All Lebanese youth with civil, patriotic and national maturity, who showed great abilities during the Lebanese spring, and offered martyrs, also should assume their responsibilities," he said.
He added "We call for a Lebanese nationalism based on the concept of the a democratic citizenship state, with the participation of all Lebanese in building new policies that will eliminate the negative aspects of the system and gradually lead to real civil state."
He also noted "In view of the modern socio-political Lebanese experience, the country should not go through a Sunni-Shiite clash, and should stay an example of Islamic and national unity. The influential officials in both camps, clergymen, political leaders, thinkers, and intellectuals, should adhere to the goals of unity, and remain able to prevent the differences from becoming clashes. Therefore, there is a need for constant initiatives, and deep dialogue between the two sides, on all levels and forms, to spread mutual trust, dissipate confusion, defuse chronic or sudden crisis, and stop the mixing between the religious-sectarian issues and the political issues."
On the Syrian issue, he said "Freedom is indivisible. Those who support freedom for Lebanon and its people cannot continue to support the Syrian regime against its people, that rises for freedom and dignity. The Lebanese-Syrian relations cannot become equal on political, moral and Arab levels, unless the democratic transition in Syria succeeds in laying the foundation of the regime of freedom and justice, and establishing equal relations between the two states according to the rules of good neighborliness and common interests. We need solidarity to the Syrian people up with him in his crisis with his regime and his uprising against him, and our loyalty to the brotherhood, freedom and dignity promised by the Arab Spring, while ceasing to find pretexts for maintaining tyrannical Syrian regime and criminal at any price."
He also said "The Lebanese Spring stumbled in the face of isolation, blockade, and weapons. And here comes the Arab Spring, opening large horizons of freedom and change towards what is new, promising and progressive. The Arab Spring is calling out to Lebanon through the values of freedom, dignity and justice. It is up to us to react positively and to participate by liberating ourselves from subordination, polarization and the resort to arms. And to regain enthusiasm for coexistence, and for the creation of a free, capable and democratic State through achieving the implementation of the Taef agreement and implementing the slogan of Lebanon first in words and deeds."

Siniora concluded "The Spring of Lebanon will come true when the Lebanese regain their state and democratic system in order to meet the many political, economic and social challenges looming on the horizon. Our responsibility is to fight for the return of the State envisioned by the Lebanese, which safeguards their national interests, independence, prosperity and freedom."
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NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Siniora reads out Future Movement document on Arab Spring
 

Wed 7/03/2012 19:19

NNA - 7/3/2012 Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora announced on Wednesday evening at the Center House the document entitled "The Future Movement and the Perspectives of the Arab Spring" in which he said "We consider the Arab change a period of maturity, and at the same time a new path, a challenge, and a chance. It is a chance because it places the Arab Nation, including us, at the gateway of a new future filled with the ambitions of our youth, to establish political regimes on the basis of the respect of rights and public freedoms, especially religious freedoms, of the safeguard of human dignity, and of justice and good management of the public affairs. It is a challenge for our ability as Lebanese citizens to review and criticize, to prepare for a moral, cultural, and political revival, to overcome (through enlightened thoughts and actions) the effects of the previous period, during which extremism, oppression and the politics of axis prevailed, an era that divided societies, and increased the rivalry between state and religion, and between societies and their authorities."
He added "The goal of this review, follow up, criticism and struggle is to preserve the unity of our society and its diversity, and the dignity of man in this time of change. Additionally, it would help start a common, comprehensive and advanced action on the national level with all social, cultural and political groups of Lebanon, to strengthen coexistence, and take it as well as the National Pact and the Constitution as starting points to improve public affairs, and allow our youth to participate in building their future, the future of Lebanon and all Arabs."
"The change ushered by Arab Youth is a long term democratic process, which goes beyond holding elections that result in a ruling majority .They are also a culture, enshrining full equality between all citizens, protecting public freedoms, respecting diversity, and the right to difference, and rejecting any monopoly from the part of a majority, whatever its nature," he said.
"In the Future Movement, we consider that the Arab Spring with its wide popular movement and effective ability to usher change in the Arab area and its neighborhood, represents a big chance for Lebanon, its citizens and state, to overcome challenges and dependences. But the strategic changes resulting from the Arab movements are not sufficient to strengthen Lebanese nationalism after all the defeats it faced. All Lebanese political sides should take part in the Arab change movement. All Lebanese youth with civil, patriotic and national maturity, who showed great abilities during the Lebanese spring, and offered martyrs, also should assume their responsibilities."
H eadded "We call for a Lebanese nationalism based on the concept of the a democratic citizenship state, with the participation of all Lebanese in building new policies that will eliminate the negative aspects of the system and gradually lead to real civil state."
He also noted "In view of the modern socio-political Lebanese experience, the country should not go through a Sunni-Shiite clash, and should stay an example of Islamic and national unity. The influential officials in both camps, clergymen, political leaders, thinkers, and intellectuals, should adhere to the goals of unity, and remain able to prevent the differences from becoming clashes. Therefore, there is a need for constant initiatives, and deep dialogue between the two sides, on all levels and forms, to spread mutual trust, dissipate confusion, defuse chronic or sudden crisis, and stop the mixing between the religious-sectarian issues and the political issues."
On the Syrian issue, he said "
Freedom is indivisible. Those who support freedom for Lebanon and its people cannot continue to support the Syrian regime against its people, that rises for freedom and dignity. The Lebanese-Syrian relations cannot become equal on political, moral and Arab levels, unless the democratic transition in Syria succeeds in laying the foundation of the regime of freedom and justice, and establishing equal relations between the two states according to the rules of good neighborliness and common interests. We need solidarity to the Syrian people up with him in his crisis with his regime and his uprising against him, and our loyalty to the brotherhood, freedom and dignity promised by the Arab Spring, while ceasing to find pretexts for maintaining tyrannical Syrian regime and criminal at any price."
He also said "The Lebanese Spring stumbled in the face of isolation, blockade, and weapons. And here comes the Arab Spring, opening large horizons of freedom and change towards what is new, promising and progressive. The Arab Spring is calling out to Lebanon through the values of freedom, dignity and justice. It is up to us to react positively and to participate by liberating ourselves from subordination, polarization and the resort to arms. And to regain enthusiasm for coexistence, and for the creation of a free, capable and democratic State through achieving the implementation of the Taef agreement and implementing the slogan of Lebanon first in words and deeds."

Siniora concluded "The Spring of Lebanon will come true when the Lebanese regain their state and democratic system in order to meet the many political, economic and social challenges looming on the horizon. Our responsibility is to fight for the return of the State envisioned by the Lebanese, which safeguards their national interests, independence, prosperity and freedom."
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Politics - Cabinet ordinary session Friday
 

Wed 7/03/2012 18:55

NNA - 7/3/2012 - The Cabinet is scheduled to hold an ordinary session at Baabda presidential palace on forthcoming Friday under the chairmanship of Lebanese President, Michel Sleiman.

The Cabinet will look into a 30-item agenda, mainly into a project law on settling on public expenditures from 2006 to 2010, project decree to allocate an LL-8.9-trillion treasury loan to cover the 2012 spending of the public administration, and the national strategy of water sector.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rifai: Resistance geared up to fend off enemy aggression
 

Wed 7/03/2012 18:54

NNA - 07/03/2012 - The Resistance is ready to deflect any aggression by Israel, Islamic Action Front MP Kamel Rifai affirmed on Wednesday.

"History will mention the Islamic Resistance's sacrifices with golden letters," Rifia said in a statement.

Making mention of the Resistance's victories of 2000 and 2006 over Lebanon's enemy, Israel, Rifai said that the Resistance was willing today, more than ever, to vanquish Israel.

"It has the support of most of the Lebanese, Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic people. It is fully capable of facing any aggression or idiocy by the enemy amid Arab developments," he added.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hariri: The Lebanese have the choice to either join blind regimes or take the hand of the free people
 

Wed 7/03/2012 18:29

NNA - 7/3/2012 In his delivered word, via satellite, during the meeting at the Center house on Wednesday afternoon to announce the The Future Movement document's on the Arab Spring, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that Muslims in Lebanon are not an independent political entity that exists in itself, but rather a pillar of the national equation, of which the Christians constitute the first half.

Hariri said "The Arab spring offers the Lebanese a golden opportunity to modernize their democratic experience, and filter it from the remnants of the sectarian war and the policies of intimidation and betting on the outside forces. All the Lebanese are concerned in seizing this opportunity and avoiding erroneous readings of the Arab spring's path and especially the inevitable change taking place in Syria. Facing this scene, the Lebanese have the choice to either join the blind regimes and work on beautifying the ugly criminal face of those regimes, or to take the hand of the free people in their demand for freedom and justice."

Hariri added "If there is among the Lebanese some who unfortunately believe otherwise, and insist on reading the developments in Syria through the eyes of the blind regime, the least we can say about this reading is that it is immoral. What kind of religion, ethics and Constitution allows all these crimes? Where is the interest of Lebanon in betting on a regime drowning in the death fields that it created? This is an unethical bet and justification, and no Lebanese is honored to have among his leaders someone involved in covering the slaughtering of the Syrian people."

"The friends of the Syrian regime in Lebanon must be aware of this issue and realize that the strength of iron and fire will not be able to turn the clock back. This regime can survive for several weeks or months, but the Syrian people will remain forever. Our will in Lebanon, is to live in a united country, that doesn't prefer a citizen over another, and where no guarantee is given by one sect to another, as the only guarantee is given by the State, that is responsible of all citizens and of establishing a balance of justice, freedom and equality between all," Hariri said.

He went on to say "Democracy protects us all. It is our guarantee for coexistence in the face of fragmentation, for unity in the face of division and for dialogue in the face of intolerance. We don't give ourselves nor do we accept that any other party gives itself the right of tutelage on the equation of coexistence in Lebanon. And just as we refuse intimidation based on weapons and outside alliances to impose conditions on the management of public affairs in the country, we refuse all kinds of intimidation based on the power of majority to impose any kind of guardianship on the national and political life."

He noted "We in Lebanon see the Arab Spring as a historic moment of democratic awareness that represents in itself the guarantee for all Arab groups regardless of their sectarian, religious, political or ideological affiliations. The formula of coexistence between Muslims and Christians is the result of a deep human, intellectual and spiritual effort based on the power of equality, the freedom of speech, belief, and faith, the culture of national peace and recognition of others, and refraining from all kinds of enforcement policies."

He also indicated "If Israel's existence at the expense of the people of Palestine has rocked the pillars of co-existence and manipulated it for many years, we still emphasize that we are owners of a great legacy of this coexistence, not only in Lebanon, but also in most countries of the Arab world, and the Orient in particular, because these countries would not have ended the eras of colonialism without a national will that was produced by Muslim and Christian leaders, symbols and elites. The Israeli and internal wars have contributed, throughout the past four decades, to change the demographic face of Lebanon, giving rise to regions that are semi-pure on the level of confession and religion, that were built on the ruins of a long experience of confessional amalgamation and common national life. This unfortunate reality doesn't represent the essence of Lebanon and its humanitarian and historic reality, and should not remain a heavy burden on the future of the country."

"The Lebanese are required- just as the country witnessed in the year 2000 when the South and West Bekaa were liberated from the Israeli occupation, and then on March 14, 2005- to break this cycle and reproduce national areas of convergence that are not controlled by political and security intimidation, and not related to external agendas," he said.

He concluded "Syria is moving towards freedom by the will of its people and the sacrifices of thousands of martyrs and detainees who are being thrown in the big prison. It is freedom that draws a straight line of change, progress and democratic life, between the Lebanese, the Arab spring and the Syrian spring."
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Politics - Geagea, Makkari meet over situation
 

Wed 7/03/2012 17:42

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea, on Wednesday took up the general political situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region with Deputy House Speaker Farid Makkari.

Separately, Geagea met with Ossama and Ghady Rahbani, who presented him with an invitation to attend "On the Land of Gipsy" play in Casino du Liban.
 

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Politics - Cabinet convenes in Grand Serail
 

Wed 7/03/2012 17:36

NNA - 7/3/2012 - The cabinet is currently convening in an ordinary session at the Grand Serail, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister, Najib Mikati.

The cabinet is scheduled to look into an agenda of 70 items, on top of which the approbation of two laws on fighting money laundering and the exchange of fiscal data and the approbation of a project law on electronic media regulation.
 

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Politics - Berri relates to deputies Cyprus visit's outcome
 

Wed 7/03/2012 17:26

NNA - 07/03/2012 - In the context of Wednesday's parliament gathering, House Speaker Nabih Berri related to the deputies the outcome of his recent visit to Cyprus, where he met with senior officials and discussed with them the maritime borders issue in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Berri indicated that there was an error in locating the tri-dimensional point in EEZ - something worth to be rectified in the latest understanding between Lebanon and Cyprus, in order to guarantee Lebanon's rights in this regard.

Berri assured that the Cypriot Foreign Minister would visit Lebanon on March 15 to explore the matter pertaining to the demarcation of Lebanon's borders in EEZ.

Separately, Berri received on Wednesday Economy Minister Nicholas Nahhas and later on met with the Japanese Ambassador to Lebanon.

In another development, the Speaker sent a telegram to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, congratulating him on being re-elected as President of Russia.
A.M>

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Politics - Zasypkin asserts Russia's unwavering, constant stance on Syria
 

Wed 7/03/2012 17:23

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexandre Zasypkin, had been Wednesday to the office of Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour, for a meeting over the impending summit to be held in Cairo Saturday, within the context of talks between Russia and the Arab League.

Zasypkin mainly avowed that Russia's position from Syria did not change, and explained that the elections-related considerations in Russia would not affect the Russian stance in that respect.

"On the contrary, Russia's position is unwavering and constant (...) because we rely on our vision on the international relations," he said.

On Cairo's forthcoming meeting, the diplomat said Russia was ready for constructive cooperation with the Arab League in an effort to reach a peaceful solution to the conflicts in the MENA region.

He explained that the meeting would primarily skim through the current juncture in Syria in light of the necessity to cease violence in the nearest time possible and with no prior conditions.

"We always call to cease violence. Last February, we used the veto and we spoke with the Americans about the draft resolution; we had suggested a mandatory clause to cease the two-pronged violence. But they refused the Russian proposal and rushed to vote. As a result, we used the veto," he reminded.

In response to a question about whether Russia has relations with the armed groups, Zasypkin said "such question should not be asked to Syria, but to the parties inciting these groups and calling for their armament."

Besides, he said Russia supported the mission of the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Kofi Anan, stressing that he [Anan] is asked to help find common grounds between both parties in Syria and think about how to pave the way for dialogue therein.
 

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Politics - Nasrallah, Zahle Archbishop meet
 

Wed 7/03/2012 16:32

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on Wednesday met with Zahle and Bekaa Greek Catholic Archbishop Issam Darwish over latest developments in Lebanon and Syria.

A statement by Hezbollah press bureau also indicated that the meeting, attended by the party's official Ghaleb Abu Zainab, touched on the situation in Bekaa region on different levels.
 

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Politics - (Corrected) Sami Gemayel, Janjanian meet
 

Wed 7/03/2012 16:26

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Sami Gemayel broached the current situation and most recent developments on the Lebanese domestic scene with MP Shant Janjanian.

The meeting took place last night (Tuesday) in Gemayel's Bikfaya residence.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sami Gemayel, Janjanian meet
 

Wed 7/03/2012 16:24

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Sami Gemayel on Wednesday broached the current situation and most recent developments on the Lebanese domestic scene with MP Shant Janjanian.

The meeting took place in Gemayel's Bikfaya residence.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


 

Politics - Kabbara calls to form committee to protect Syrian 'refugees'
 

Wed 7/03/2012 16:22
NNA - 7/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Mohammad Kabbara on Wednesday called upon the Lebanese government to form a special committee devoted to follow up the affairs of "the Syrian refugees forcibly displaced to Lebanon," to guarantee their rights to return to their country.

"The escalation of Assad's regime's bloody attacks against the Syrian people requires that we, in Lebanon, go beyond the traditional support for Syrians; more is required from us to provide relief to these displaced," the Deputy said in a statement.

He saw that it was about time for the Lebanese government to engage in documenting the names of these people and file their family records.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved
 








 

Politics - Qahwaji meets MP Fares, others
 

Wed 7/03/2012 15:53

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Lebanese Army Chief, General Jean Qahwaji, on Wednesday received at his office in Yarze MP Marwan Fares and the accompanying delegation, with talks featuring high on the current general situation.

Qahwaji later met with Head of Majdal Anjar municipality, Sami Alajami, and the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Hadil magazine, Bassam Afifi.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Zahra: Government cooperation with Syria revokes Human Rights
 

Wed 7/03/2012 15:49

NNA - 7/3/2012 MP Antoine Zahra Wednesday denounced Lebanese government's denial of Human Rights through its cooperation with Syrian authorities in murdering the people even with the adopted "disassociation policy."

Zahra said it became obvious that the Zionist lobby was still exerting pressure not to have the Syrian regime collapse with a fatal strike.
"The lobby does mind the replacement of current regime after the services the latter has presented over the past ten years," Zahra said.

Lebanese Forces bloc member also conveyed his bloc's anticipation to holding better ties with the future Syrian command.

Speaking to Al-Mustaqbal news television channel, Zahra said the hype about an upcoming economic burden on Lebanon was inappropriate for the time being.

Pertaining to the [extra-budgetary] spending issue, Zahra said it was essential that budgets be presented so that auditing would be done based on them.
"Settlement in spending does not indicate a deal. A settlement ought to be done as per the law," Zahra noted.

On the topic of the electoral law, the MP said everyone seeks to improve representation through a new electoral law; however, what one party might deem right, the other might not necessarily adopt.

"Hezbollah, despite its regional alliances, reads well and tries to avoid and to have the country avoid the bitter cup the Syrian regime is making us sip," Zahra remarked.

L.W.

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Politics - Charbel, Ozyildise tackle cooperation agreement
 

Wed 7/03/2012 15:45

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Interior and Municipalities Minister Marwan Charbel on Wednesday met with the Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon, Inan Ozyildise, over political and security affairs.

The pair tackled as well general developments at the regional scene, with talks mainly focusing on the ongoing preparations for signing the cooperation agreement between Lebanon and Turkey's governments at the level of civil defense, personal status and internal security.

Ozyildise uttered appreciation for the efforts exerted by Minister Charbel so as to boost stability and enhance security measures to protect the Turkish Embassy located in Lebanon.

Moreover, Minister Charbel tackled general juncture and developmental affairs with MP Kassem Abdel Aziz, as well as former Deputies Youssef Saadeh and Karim Al-Rassi.

D.K.
 

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Politics - Reform starts when Siniora appears before judiciary, Nicolas
 

Wed 7/03/2012 15:31

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Nabil Nicolas on Wednesday said the Change and Reform bloc cannot envisage, in any way whatsoever, any compromising over the 11-billion-dollar extra-budgetary spending.

"Why does Fouad Siniora fear bringing this item to justice?" he wondered.

Interviewed on Al-Manar channel today, the Metn Deputy saw that reform starts when Siniora appears before judiciary.

"Siniora must appear before justice. If he was exonerated, we would then apologize to him; and if he was convicted, then he should be chastised," he corroborated.

Nicolas underline that the issue was neither sectarian nor political, but rather "a cause of money waste."

On a different note, the Change and Reform bloc member lambasted US ambassador's request to Interior Minister Marwan Charbel to protect Syrians in Lebanon.

"The US had best mobilize when Gaza was under attack," he said.

He saw that the US and Europe were working on creating belligerent sectarian statelets in the region to justify Israel's existence.

Slamming some Lebanese positions from the current developments in unrest-swept Syria, Nicolas considered that Future Movement was patronizing fundamentalist trends, that the Lebanese Forces were seeking to establish a Christian state, and that MP Walid Jumblatt was dreaming of a Druze entity.

"Such positions are part of the scheme aimed to fragmenting the region (...) especially that Syria is the closer to secularism," he deemed.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Kabbani: Bassil's electricity plan null, non compliant with laws
 

Wed 7/03/2012 15:22

NNA - 03/07/2012 - MP Mohammad Kabbani on Wednesday accused Energy Minister Gebran Bassil of violating the laws, and the Constitution and of attempting to blackmail the constitutional institutions, demanding exorbitant sums to be spent against laws transparency.

"If Gebran Bassil had applied the Electricity law since his designation as Energy Minister three years ago, we would've been able to raise the power supply up to 24 hours or so," he said, during a press conference held at the Parliament.

The MP noted that Bassil had refused proposals made by companies willing to generate electricity from wind.

"Bassil's work today, before the formation of the electricity sector's organizing committee, is null, non-compliant with the law and reflects the worst images of corruption" said Kabbani accusingly.

He finally urged state Heads Sleiman, Berri and Mikati, as well as Deputies and ministers to end the transgressions committed by Minister Bassil.

D.K.
 

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Politics - Connelly from the Grand Serail: USA wary of Lebanon's instability due to Syrian crisis
 

Wed 7/03/2012 15:20

NNA - 07/03/2012 - The US Ambassador in Beirut, Maura Connelly, feared that the Syrian turmoil might destabilize the security situation in Lebanon.

Connelly's fear was expressed Wednesday afternoon after meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail.

Talks between Connelly and Mikati focused on overall developments at the local and regional scenes as well as on bilateral ties. The Ambassador renewed USA's commitment to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon.

Afterwards, Mikati received at the Grand Serail State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Nicholas Fattoush, with talks featuring high upon the general situation.
Amongst Grand Serail's visitors have been a delegation of the National Board for Sciences and Researches headed by Dr. Ahmad Shehlan; General Security senior Abbas Ibrahim; and others.
A.M.

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Politics - Sleiman meets Mikati, hopes development in woman's role
 

Wed 7/03/2012 15:03


NNA - 07/03/2012 - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman hoped that woman's role in the world would prosper to make broad access to both the political and administrative fields.

Sleiman's words came Wednesday on the occasion of the World Day for Woman's Rights falling tomorrow with the World Day for Peace. The President, furthermore, hoped that bloodshed and any other sorts of violence in the world would be terminated and peace and stability would instead prevail.

Separately, Sleiman received Prime Minister Najib Mikati and discussed with him the general situation. Both also reviewed the schedule of the cabinet session to be held this evening at the Grand Serail.

Afterwards, Sleiman received Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi who related to the host the ministry's adopted procedures to face the consequences of the recent storm that hit Lebanon.

Among Baabda's visitors have been Deputy Michel Pheraon and head of State Shoura Council, Judge Shukri Sader.
 

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Politics - Aoun, Ghosn meet over wage adjustment issue
 

Wed 7/03/2012 14:55

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Change and Reform bloc member, Deputy Michel Aoun, on Wednesday received the General Labor Confederation's Head, Ghassan Ghosn who hoped that the wage adjustment be legalized away from the conflicts over the extra budgetary spending.

Ghosn discussed with Aoun oil prices which are in constant hike, calling on the state to lessen the burden placed over the citizens' shoulders and ratify the law on hybrid cars.

MP Michel Aoun had also met with Massoud Achkar over general political developments, particularly the issue of the administrative appointments and the importance of Christians' representation in state's institutions. The History book and the electoral law also topped talks between the pair.
D.K.

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Politics - Siniora, Egyptian diplomat meet
 

Wed 7/03/2012 14:39

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Head of Future parliamentary bloc, MP Fouad Siniora, on Wednesday met with the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Mustafa Tawfiq.

The meeting, held at Siniora's office in Sadat Tower, featured high on the current general situation and most recent developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Audi, Fadel meet
 

Wed 7/03/2012 13:39

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Beirut Metropolitan for Greek Orthodox, Bishop Elias Audi, on Wednesday met with parliament member Robert Fadel over general situation.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Aridi, Aswad tackle developmental affairs
 

Wed 7/03/2012 13:32

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi tackled Wednesday with MP Ziad Aswad developmental projects required for Jezzin, especially after the snow storm which hit the region, leaving behind damages and collapses.

Aswad said the meeting was an occasion to skim through developmental affairs pertaining to the needs of Jezzin and the surrounding area, confirming the Minister's responsiveness to such demands and his readiness to execute all developmental dossiers the soonest possible.

As for the legislative session to be held on March 15, Aswad noted that no solutions were thus far on the table, assuring that matters should be solved as per the laws in force.

Separately, Minister Aridi followed up land transportation sector's affairs with Bassam Tleis, with talks featuring high on transportation fees and oil prices.
D.K.

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Politics - Daouk, Ozyildiz tackle media cooperation
 

Wed 7/03/2012 13:26

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Information Minister Walid Daouk Wednesday tackled means to develop media cooperation with Turkey during his meeting with Turkey's Ambassador Inan Ozyildiz.

Both sides also went over the possibility to preserve the archive T�l� Liban channel.

Minister Daouk extolled the Ambassador's endeavors to reactivate Lebanon's national television channel.

Ozyildiz, in turn, said the channel needs to be preserved since it represents Lebanon's heritage.

L.W.

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Politics - Maronite Bishops urge managing power imbalance
 

Wed 7/03/2012 12:32

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Maronite Bishops Wednesday urged setting rules to manage political problems in the country, warning that the persisting quarrels could lead to larger hindrances.

In their statement delivered today following their monthly gathering chaired by Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Rahi, Bishops hailed Lebanese army's efforts to protect borders, anchor security, and impose state's legitimacy on all territories.

L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Merehbi denounces power deprivation in Akkar
 

Wed 7/03/2012 12:20

NNA - 7/3/2012 - MP Mouin Merehbi Wednesday said Akkar is a deserted area when it comes to power supply for a maximum of 2 hours is deemed sufficient whereas in Beirut supply does not fall shorter than 21 hours.

Speaking to Al-Sharek radio the MP said this government has made us experience the worse phase of developmental activities mainly within roads and power sectors.

Commenting on the Syrian refugees' issue, Merehbi said the displaced so far have no legal papers allowing them to cross over.

Future bloc member also said that government lacks seriousness when it comes to the aforementioned issue.

He hailed herein efforts of the Higher Relief Committee to help Syrian displaced people.

L.W.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (correction)Marouni: March 8 adopts double-standards policy
 

Wed 7/03/2012 11:46

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Deputy Elie Marouni on Wednesday said the opposition's goal is to draw the $11 billion card from the political and electoral outbidding, indicating that March 8 forces are adopting double-standard policy concerning the country's affairs.

The Deputy told Voice of Lebanon - Voice of Dignity and Freedom that the reasons behind the extra budgetary spending, from 2005 till 2010, were the same as the justifications given by the current government over the LL8.9 trillion.

"If they insist on considering this matter as corruption, let them raise the subject of illicit enrichment," he added, assuring that a way out of the spending knot must be found before the legislative session scheduled for March 15.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Nahhas: Berri's spending proposal likely to be successful
 

Wed 7/03/2012 11:38

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Economy and Minister Nicolas Nahhas Wednesday asserted that House Speaker's proposal on spending has numerous chances to succeed as it might be an entrance for setting a clear mechanism to organize national accounts.

The Minister called on concerned parties to end their campaings on the issue the budgets as this may hamper a breakthrough on this matter.

Nahhas told Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio that administrative appointments knot ought to be resolved in order to fill vacuums.

L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Marouni: March 8 adopts double-standards policy
 

Wed 7/03/2012 11:26

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Deputy Elie Marouni on Wednesday said the opposition's goal is to draw the $11 billion card from the political and electoral outbiding, indicating that March 8 forces are adopting double-standard policy concerning the country's affairs.

The Deputy told Voice of Lebanon - Voice of Dignity and Freedom that the reasons behind the extra budgetary spending, from 2005 till 2010, were the same as the justifications given by the current government over the LL8.9 trillion.

"If they insist on considering that this matter as corruption, let them raise the subject of illicit enrichment," he added, assuring that a way out of the spending knot must be found before the legislative session scheduled for March 15.
D.K.

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Politics - Alain Aoun: Jumblatt is not part of March 8 politically
 

Wed 7/03/2012 11:23

NNA - Member of Parliament Alain Aoun criticized the recent positions of MP Walid Jumblatt, adding that the latter should not be considered as part of the majority at least politically.

He added that Jumblatt chooses the position depending on the topic raised by the cabinet.

Aoun reiterated Change and Reform rejection of any attempt to connect the LL8.9 trillion extra budgetary spending with the $11 billion issue.

"The only solution for the $11 billion is to release a breakdown of accounts by the Finance Ministry and then refer it to the Court of Accounting to audit them. Once this has been done, the authorities then should send these accounts to Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee," Aoun said.

Aoun denied that MP Michel Aoun has any intention to withdraw his ministers from the Cabinet if no solution on the budget was reached.

O.H

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Politics - Sleiman, Mikati discuss developments
 

Wed 7/03/2012 10:17

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman Wednesday discussed most recent developments during his meeting with Premier Najib Mikati at Baabda palace.

L.W.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Houry: Parliamentary majority confused
 

Wed 7/03/2012 09:54

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Future Parliamentary bloc member MP Ammar Houry told "Radio Free Lebanon" that the parliamentary majority is confused and this Cabinet does not even has its own decision.

"This parliamentary majority was able to achieve this majority following a coup. This government does not even have its own decision and if the Syrian regime falls then Cabinet will follow suit," Houry said.

He stressed that the presence of MP Michel Aoun with his line of thinking the government will collapse in any minute.

The MP also ridiculed the debate over the $11 billion issue.

"The $11 billion issue has been fabricated by Aoun himself and I don't think that even his allies like Hezbollah is really convinced of this matter."

Houry argued that March 8 wants to show that March 14 is a violator of the law and at the same time they will try to portray themselves as angels.

O.H

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Politics - Unexplained visit by Spanish diplomats to Arida
 

Tue 6/03/2012 21:40

NNA - 6/3/2012 - The National News Agency correspondent to Akkar reported Tuesday that a delegation of the Spanish embassy in Lebanon had been to borderline Arida crossing point.

The visit's reasons are however unknown.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Egyptian diplomat in Bkekri ahead of Patriarch's visit in Cairo
 

Tue 6/03/2012 20:28

NNA - 6/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi on Tuesday met in Bkerki with the Egyptian ambassador in Beirut, Mohammad Tawfiq, in the context of the Patriarch's forthcoming pastoral tour in Egypt.

The meeting also featured high on most recent developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

Talks mainly broached the current situation and latest up-to-dates on the Egyptian domestic scene.

Besides, the pair reportedly skimmed through the historic ties between Lebanon and Egypt, capitalizing the Islamic-Christian coexistence model in both countries.

Patriarch Rahi, who will be chairing the monthly meeting for the Maronite Archbishops Council tomorrow Wednesday, heaped praise on Al-Azhar document, which he saw as "a paramount mainstay" to the inter-cultural dialogue in the Mideast region.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Egyptian diplomat in Bkekri ahead of Patriarch's visit in Cairo
 

Tue 6/03/2012 20:28

NNA - 6/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi on Tuesday met in Bkerki with the Egyptian ambassador in Beirut, Mohammad Tawfiq, in the context of the Patriarch's forthcoming pastoral tour in Egypt.

The meeting also featured high on most recent developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

Talks mainly broached the current situation and latest up-to-dates on the Egyptian domestic scene.

Besides, the pair reportedly skimmed through the historic ties between Lebanon and Egypt, capitalizing the Islamic-Christian coexistence model in both countries.

Patriarch Rahi, who will be chairing the monthly meeting for the Maronite Archbishops Council tomorrow Wednesday, heaped praise on Al-Azhar document, which he saw as "a paramount mainstay" to the inter-cultural dialogue in the Mideast region.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Aissami family blocks Alley Highway in protest of his kidnapping
 

Tue 6/03/2012 20:25
NNA - The family of former Syrian Vice President Shibli Aissami and Alley parliamentary and party dignitaries blocked the international highway at Alley roundabout, in protest of the ten-month old abduction of Aissami.

The protesting family declared that this step comes within a series of other escalatory moves on dates to be announced later, to obtain Aissami's release from Syrian jails after all diplomatic efforts failed.

Aissami is 88 years old, the senior detainee in Syrian jails.

Deputy Akram Shuhayyeb, Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) officials and local municipal and mayoral heads partook in the said in.

Deputy Shuhayyeb said in his word that they are not only calling for the release of detainees from Syrian jails but also for the triumph of Homos, Hama, Deraa, Allepo and the remaining Syrian localities.

Protestors then opened Alley Highway to traffic, without the intervention of security forces.
----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Future claims legalization of finances auditing since Taef
 

Tue 6/03/2012 20:20

NNA - 6/3/2012 - Future parliamentary bloc on Tuesday claimed that the auditing of Lebanese state public finances be legalized since Taef Agreement and hitherto.

The bloc held today its weekly periodic meeting under the chairmanship of Deputy Fouad Siniora and stressed that transparence is the mainstay to the work of Future Movement, parliamentary bloc, and March 14 forces.

A closing statement issued in the wake of the meeting indicated that conferees lambasted what they termed as "base and vile outbids" by the rival camp over the matter of public finance.

Rift is growing sharper between the Lebanese parties at loggerheads, namely the March 8-led majority and the March 14-led opposition, over extra-budgetary spending since 2006.

The bloc argued that such expenditures were effectuated from outside the state budget as the Parliament had failed to Okay the five budget projects put forth by Fouad Siniora and Saad Hariri's governments.

"These governments have adopted the norms, mechanisms, and restraints stated by the Law and public auditing; required documents are available in the records of the Ministry of Finance and the concerned administrations and ministries," the statement read.

As totally refusing to take apart the current Mikati-led government's expenditures and those of former governments, the bloc maintained that it neither aimed to receive any quittance from anyone whosoever nor to make any compromise over the disputed sums.

The bloc lastly wondered at the delay in setting the 2011 and 2012 state budgets, deeming such reluctance as evidence on the current government's incapability to assume its obligations.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi, EU Ambassadors tackle current developments
 

Tue 6/03/2012 18:42

NNA - 6/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi met on Tuesday at Bkerke with a delegation of the European Diplomatic corps.

The delegation visited Rahi upon his request and discussed with him latest developments on the regional and international scenes, and the impact of the current regional situation on Christians.

Following the one hour and a half meeting, EU Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst said the delegation tackled with the Patriarch an array of matters including forthcoming electoral law and national coexistence amongst the various sects in Lebanon.

Eichhorst also indicated that EU supports the implementation of political and socio-economic reforms in Lebanon.

"Amidst the current developments taking place in the Arab world, Lebanon has to realize how to transform challenges to opportunities," Eichhorst said, recommending that Lebanon should be amongst the pioneering countries that launches firm democracy and permanent socio-economic development.

On the other hand, Patriarch Rahi met with Deputy Jamal Jarrah where they tackled current hour issues.

Jarrah stressed on emerging the necessity of cementing national ranks in the face of upcoming dangers and demonstrating political tranquility and insight in addressing national matters.

MPs Hadi Hobeich and Khodr Habib also visited respectively Patriarch Rahi with talks reportedly touching on the current situation in their respective areas.

Among Rahi's itinerant visitors for today has been Lebanon's Honorary Consul in Boston Ibrahim Hanna who briefed him on the Lebanese Consulate's activities in Boston.
----------------L.Y

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Politics - Wahhab from Ain Tineh: for minority to respond to Berri's initiative
 

Tue 6/03/2012 18:40

NNA - 06/03/2012 - Head of Tawhid Party Wiam Wahhab said the present minority should respond to House Speaker Nabih Berri's initiative concerning the USD 11 billion issue.

Wahhab's stance came Tuesday in the wake of his visit to Berri at the latter's residence in Ain Tineh. Both persons engaged in talks relevant to local and regional developments.

Amongst Berri's visitors have been former Minister Bechara Merhij, Head of Dialogue Party Fouad Makhzoumi and Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Talib.
A.M./P.BC.

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Politics - Franjieh tackles current developments with interlocutors
 

Tue 6/03/2012 17:30

NNA - 6/3/2012 Marada Movement Head Sleiman Franjieh met Tuesday at his Bnashai residence with UN Secretary General Personal Representative in Lebanon Derek Plumbly, where they boarded the current developments on the local arena.

Deputy Franjieh also met with Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon Omar Barzanji with talks reportedly touching on the current regional and local developments in addition to preparations underway for holding the forthcoming Arab Summit in Iraq.
---------------L.Y

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Politics - Ambassador Connelly Meets Minister of Interior Marwan Charbel
 

Tue 6/03/2012 16:16

NNA - 06/03/2012 - U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly met with Minister of Interior and Municipalities Marwan Charbel today at the Minister's offices in Hamra. Ambassador Connelly and the Minister discussed the political and security situation in Lebanon as well as the Syrian condition. They also discussed U.S. support for training the Internal Security Forces.
Ambassador Connelly recognized Lebanon's efforts to provide assistance to Syrians fleeing the violence in their country and she encouraged the Lebanese government to continue its cooperation with the international community and provide for the humanitarian needs and safety of all Syrians who have fled to Lebanon, including dissenters and deserters. She noted the Lebanese government's right and responsibility to secure its borders, and called for the protection of all disarmed Syrians, including members of the Free Syrian Army. She reaffirmed the United States' concern for the disappearance and kidnappings of Syrian nationals in Lebanon. She underscored U.S. concerns that developments in Syria not contribute to instability in Lebanon.
She renewed the commitment of the United States to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon.
 

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Politics - Nadim Gemayel from Matar's: new history book will not enter our schools
 

Tue 6/03/2012 15:46

NNA - 06/03/2012 - Deputy Nadim Gemayel attacked the upcoming published book of history, saying "it will neither enter our region nor our schools."

Gemayel's fresh position towards the history book came from Beirut Maronite Bishopric in Ashrafieh, where the Deputy visited Archbishop Boulos Matar and engaged with him in talks relevant to the domestic scene.

Gemayel criticized Hizbullah saying it wasn't the resistance which built Lebanon throughout history and represented Lebanon's conscientious, by virtue of the thousands of martyrs who sacrificed their souls in face of those wanting to usurp the nation.

Separately, Matar received head of the Maronite General Council Wadih Khazen who was re-elected by members of the council's general assembly for chairing the council. Matar, accordingly, congratulated Khazen.
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (UPDATED)Daoud slams Jumblatt from Rabieh, Choker warns of ongoing conspiracy
 

Tue 6/03/2012 15:43

NNA - 06/03/2012 - Deputy Walid Jumblatt is only working to incur personal benefits; he is not working for the nation's interest, Former Deputy, Faysal Daoud, said following a visit to Deputy General Michel Aoun in Rabieh on Tuesday.

But the Secretary General of the Lebanese-Arab Struggle Front had a different tone addressing MP Aoun, saying he symbolized all the valor and dignity of a statesman.

"We are paying dear price in return for the virulent services," Daoud added, regretting that his village was forbidden from asphalting its streets, just because it concerns "Faysal Daoud".

He also lashed out at the current Lebanese state, saying it was a "farm state" and one of personal benefits.

"There is no hope of building national institutions with such people around," he said, describing the prevailing status quo as the most treacherous.

Aoun later held talks with Baath Party Regional Secretary General, Former Minister, Fayez Choker, who said on emerging that talks with Aoun mostly focused on yesterday's Parliament session which failed to convene due to lack of quorum.

Addressing March 14 supporters, Choker wondered whatever happened with the $6 billion which had been granted to Lebanon to cover recompensations for those who incurred losses during the July 2006 Israeli aggression on Lebanon.

"This money never made it to the treasury. Who had been heading the Lebanese cabinet back then? It was Prime Minister Fouad Sinora!" Choker exclaimed.

As for Deputy Walid Jumblatt's most recent stances, Choker said it was high time we knew what his (Jumblatt's) Ministers were up to.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Syria's Ali from Grand Serail: Mikati keen on controlling borders, preventing arms smuggling
 

Tue 6/03/2012 15:26

NNA - 06/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati followed up regional developments with the Syrian Ambassador in Beirut Ali Abdul Karim Ali, who relayed Mikati's keenness to control the Syrian Lebanese borders, prevent arms or fighters' smuggling into Syria, and cooperate with Syrian security apparatus in this concern.

Ali visited Mikati on Tuesday at the Grand Serail, with talks primarily focusing on the borders' condition.

"We reassured the Premier about the confident steps and balanced policy led by Syrian President Bashar Assad to surpass the Syrian crisis sagaciously and positively," said Ali.

Ali added that the Syrian forces were still pressing efforts to cleanse Syria's interior from scattered perpetrators aiming to destabilize the country, especially after the fall of Baba Amro/Homs in the hands of the regime.

As to reforms in public administrations, Ali said the reform course was on the right track with the newly born constitution. He hoped that a national dialogue would ultimately be held among Syrians to put terms to the crisis.

Afterwards, Mikati received Deputies Marwan Fares and Kamel Al-Rifai and discussed with them matters relevant to Bekaa region. Al-Rifai said there was an exaggeration by media concerning the number of Syrian citizens fleeing their country to Qaa.

Fares, for his part, assured that the Lebanese Army managed to seize those smuggling weapons into Syria.

Amongst Grand Serail's visitors have been, World Health Organization senior Aladdine Alwan; Lebanese University head Adnan Sayyed Hussein; School Publishers Syndicate head Elias Saad; and others.
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Daoud slams Jumblatt from Rabieh
 

Tue 6/03/2012 15:18

NNA - 06/03/2012 - Deputy Walid Jumblatt is only working to incur personal benefits; he is not working for the nation's interest, Former Deputy, Faysal Daoud, said following a visit to Deputy General Michel Aoun in Rabieh on Tuesday.

But the Secretary General of the Lebanese-Arab Struggle Front had a different tone addressing MP Aoun, saying he symbolized all the valor and dignity of a statesman.

"We are paying dear price in return for the virulent services," Daoud added, regretting that his village was forbidden from asphalting its streets, just because it concerns "Faysal Daoud".

He also lashed out at the current Lebanese state, saying it was a "farm state" and one of personal benefits.

"There is no hope of building national institutions with such people around," he said, describing the prevailing status quo as the most treacherous.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Audi, Plumbly meet
 

Tue 6/03/2012 14:38

NNA - 6/3/2012 - Metropolitan of Beirut for Greek Orthodox, Bishop Elias Audi, on Tuesday met with the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, who praised Audi's wisdom in addressing various affairs.

As for Syrian developments, Plumbly hoped that violence be ended soon, indicating that Former U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, will be in Syria in a few days.

Separately, Bishop Audi received former Minister Mona Ofeish with whom he discussed the country's general affairs.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman, Prince of Qatar tackle developments
 

Tue 6/03/2012 14:22
NNA - 06/03/2012 - President of the Republic, General Michel Sleiman, held talks on Tuesday with Qatari Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifah Al-Thani. The pair tackled bilateral relations at the sidelines of "Connect Arab Summit 2012", which had been commenced in Qatar on Tuesday.

Sleiman and Hamad engaged in means of expanding cooperation ties between Lebanon and Qatar. They also held talks over most recent developments at the Arab and regional scenes.

At the sidelines of the conference, the President also met the Vice Prime Minister of Oman and the Arab League Secretary General, with talks featuring high on preparations underway for Baghdad's Arab Summit due to take place at the end of March.

It is to note that the President is expected back in Beirut on Tuesday evening.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Geagea meet
 

Tue 6/03/2012 13:06

NNA - 6/3/2012- Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea and the accompanying delegation wrapped up their visit to Qatar by a meeting with Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad Ben Khalifa Al-Thani. Geagea said that it was an occasion during which he thanked the Prince for his support to Lebanon and for facilitating the Lebanese Diaspora issues in Doha.

A statement mentioned that the attendees also discussed "all the issues in the region mainly the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Arab spring issues mostly the Syrian crisis."

L.Y.R/N.AF

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Politics - Kanaan: Siniora must give a breakdown of $11 billion
 

Tue 6/03/2012 13:01

NNA - 6/3/2012 - The head of the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee MP Ibrahim Kanaan accused Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and March 14 forces of trying to bypass the constitution by asking to link the controversial $11 billion which was spent above the last approved budget with the $5.6 billion extra budgetary spending of the current government.

Kanaan, who was speaking at a press conference at the Parliament building, refuted the claims of March 14 that raising the $11 billion file would pave the way for a civil strife in Lebanon.

"What we are demanding has nothing to with political request but rather facts and judicial decisions issued by the Accounting Department," the MP said, reminding that these decisions date back to 1997.

The MP also refused to make any compromise on the issue of the $11 billion or link it to the passage of the $5.6 billion.

"What we are demanding from Siniora is to present a breakdown of accounts from 2005 till 2010 and all these accounts should be properly audited."

He repeated that the proposal made by March 14 concerning the $11 billion will never pass by the parliament because it is unconstitutional and against the law.

"We will never accept a settlement at the expense of public funds."

O.H

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mansour meets Sudan's ambassador
 

Tue 6/03/2012 12:38

NNA - 6/3/2012- Expatriates and Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour discussed with Sudan ambassador to Lebanon Idris Suleiman bilateral relations between the two countries and how to activate and strengthen them.
Following the meeting, Suleiman said that he discussed with minister Mansour calling the Higher Common Ministerial Committee between the two countries for a meeting.

He added that they would now study determining the dates and started communicating with other concerned parties such as the Lebanese Prime Minister and the Sudanese vice-President.

Suleiman explained that the Committee aims at discussing cooperation in all fields between the two countries.

The ambassador said, "Sudan and Lebanon were considered a year ago the least stable Arab countries, but this year we are of the most stable states..."

Responding to a question whether they discussed the Syrian crisis, Suleiman said, "of course, we discussed all affairs of the region and exchanged views about them."

L.Y.R/N.AF

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Politics - Marouni: we reject hindering parliament's work
 

Tue 6/03/2012 12:33


NNA - 6/3/2012 - Deputy Elie Marouni on Tuesday said his camp does not seek boycotting the parliament and hindering its work, yet sometimes this might be the last solution.

The Deputy told the Orient radio station that March 8 forces were selective in addressing critical affairs, indicating that they were rejecting compromises over the expenditures issue.

"The only solution in our hands was to refrain from attending the legislative session," the MP explained, assuring that the parliament tackles all affairs with justice and equity.

As for the stance of Deputy Walid Jumblatt and Jabhat Al-Nidal, Deputy Marouni deemed it sheer rational, as Jumblatt considers himself part of the previous governments accused of spending the $11 billion.

Marouni accordingly called for solving the spending issue before March 15 in order to keep the parliament out of the political conflicts and turn it into a venue of dialogue between leaderships.
D.K.

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Politics - Jeser: For a single solution for spending
 

Tue 6/03/2012 12:07

NNA - 6/3/2012 - MP Samir Jeser Tuesday called for a unified solution on government spending issue.

Speaking to Al-Fajer radio, Jeser said boycotting legislative session was the
constitutional right of the opposition as part of practicing democracy.

Commenting on MP Walid Jumblatt's stance, Future bloc member said Jumblatt has joined calls to settle politically the spending dossier since a legal settlement is deemed impossible.
L.W.

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Politics - Fatfat supports dealing with the spending file equally for all cabinets
 

Tue 6/03/2012 11:26

NNA - 6/3/2012- Member of Parliament (MP) Ahmad Fatfat told "Voice of Lebanon" radio station that "what is important is dealing equally with all cabinets on the extra budgetary spending file," calling upon concerned parties to wait until the disclosure of the details of minister Safadi project.

Fatfat remarks came in comment on the law draft presented by Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi.

The MP confirmed that " 'Future' " movement refuses closing the auditing issue." Fatfat said, "the cabinet should have resigned yesterday after failing to ensure the legislative session's quorum," differentiating between ensuring the session quorum by March 14 and closing the parliament during Former Premier Fouad Siniora first cabinet era.

Fatfat said that "Nidal Front" deputies, although not part of March 14,it seemed that they wanted to say the day before that the designated minister should be held responsible not the Prime Minister.
He pointed out that all parties were taking part in the cabinets accused of extra budgetary spending.

Talking about "Future" Movement document which will be announced tomorrow, Fatfat explained that "it mostly meets with the content of March 14 document", expecting that it would be adopted as an official document by the opposition.

L.Y.R/N.AF

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Politics - Youssef: Opposition approval on spending law conditional
 

Tue 6/03/2012 11:26

NNA - 6/3/2012 - MP Ghazi Youssef Tuesday said the opposition does not mind government's presenting a project law on spending provided that it would be linked to the LL8.9 trillion as it includes 2006 till 2011.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio, the MP hoped Finance Minister's urgent project would be merged with that of MP Jamal Jarrah.

L.W.

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Politics - Rahi receives European Diplomatic corps
 

Tue 6/03/2012 11:25

NNA - 6/3/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rahi is currently meeting with a delegation of the European Diplomatic corps.

The delegation visited Rahi upon his request and discussed with him latest major developments on the domestic and regional scenes.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Kataeb calls for crisis-management center handling Syria's repercussions
 

Mon 5/03/2012 22:43

NNA - 03/05/2012 - Kataeb Party on Monday called on the Lebanese government to form a crisis- management team to handle the ramifications of the Syrian crisis on the Lebanese internal scene, as well as to look into the conditions of the thousands of Syrian nationals fleeing Syria's turmoil in Lebanon.

Kataeb Party's Political Bureau and Central Council, held their regular monthly meeting on Monday, presided by Kataeb Party Leader Amine Gemayel, with talks reportedly focused on most recent developments at the local and Arab scenes.

In light of what Kataeb Party described as the "dramatic" humanitarian and security situation of Syrians in Lebanon, conferees called on the Lebanese state to bring the Party leader's words to action, by helping out Syrian nationals in cooperation with international institutions, and by taking necessary measures countering scenarios that might lead to Syrian naturalization.

Touching on developments in the battle-scarred Syrian nation, conferees urged all the Lebanese to join their ranks in a bid to augment internal security and to avoid bogging Lebanon down in Syria's unrest.

"The Lebanese are called forth to activate their unity, and never resort to the streets to voice support or objection that might eventually ignite a spar that the Lebanese are in least need for, at this moment of time," Kataeb joint statement read.

As for today's second adjournment of the Parliament's legislative session, due to lack of quorum, Kataeb said it was high time both sides of the Lebanese divide agreed over a unified solution over extra-budgetary spending.

"It has become a pressing need to reach an agreement over a unified mechanism to raise the budget ceiling for expenditures as a means to resolve the disputed spending during the pre and post 2011 stint," the statement said.

During a Parliament session last month, March 14 MPs rejected a law legalizing $5.6 billion spent by the Mikati-led cabinet, saying it only partially addresses the problem. They said that the excess $11 billion spent under the Cabinets of former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora between 2006 and 2009 and $5 billion by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Cabinet in 2010 should be legalized as well. The March 8 bloc did not agree.

In addition, participants tackled President Amine Gemayel's visit to Rome in which he held talks with senior officials, including Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and ministers.
 

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Politics - Rahi's Monday interlocutors
 

Mon 5/03/2012 22:40

NNA - 05/03/2012 - Maronite Patriarch, Mar Bechara Boutros Al- Rahi, tackled bilateral relations on Monday with Qatari Charge D'affaires, Rached Bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh Al-Kawari.

Earlier during the day, Rahi received a delegation of high school students from a Kfardebian school, who visited him in the company of nuns and priests within the frame of "Christian upbringing".

A delegation of Mount Lebanon merchants had also been to Rahi on Monday. The delegation seized the occasion to wish the Maronite Patriarch "a long life, health, and wisdom to guide the national salvation march, especially amid the sufferings Lebanon endures."
R.H.

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Politics - Geagea: No bargaining in USD 11 billion issue
 

Mon 5/03/2012 19:09

NNA - 5/3/2012 "Lebanese Forces" Head Samir Geagea addressed the other camp in Lebanon by saying that LF does not want any bargaining or acquittance in the issue of USD 11 billion. He underlined that all sides should be treated equally under the rooftop of the law.

LF Leader Geagea was speaking during a dinner banquet held in his honor by the Lebanese community in Qatar at the "Four Seasons" Hotel on Sunday, attended by Lebanese Ambassador Hassan Saad.

"They [the other camp] are creating the USD 11 billion problem for political blackmailing," Geagea said, noting that what they termed as USD 11 billion issue does not exist at all.

Dwelling on the Arab Spring, Geagea noted that any regime which will reach the authority in any Arab state shall not be judged through the name of its party or beliefs but through its deeds and preservation of democracy, human rights and freedom.

Turning to the Syrian situation, Geagea voiced support to the Syrian people's right to enjoying liberties, saying "it is due time for them to live their life as they wish."
He renewed confirmation that the solution to the Syrian situation lies in the holding of a general popular referendum under the direct supervision of the Arab League and Security Council.
----------------L.Y
Politics - Geagea: No bargaining in USD 11 billion issue

NNA - 5/3/2012 "Lebanese Forces" Head Samir Geagea addressed the other camp in Lebanon by saying that LF does not want any bargaining or acquittance in the issue of USD 11 billion. He underlined that all sides should be treated equally under the rooftop of the law.

LF Leader Geagea was speaking during a dinner banquet held in his honor by the Lebanese community in Qatar at the "Four Seasons" Hotel on Sunday, attended by Lebanese Ambassador Hassan Saad.

"They [the other camp] are creating the USD 11 billion problem for political blackmailing," Geagea said, noting that what they termed as USD 11 billion issue does not exist at all.

Dwelling on the Arab Spring, Geagea noted that any regime which will reach the authority in any Arab state shall not be judged through the name of its party or beliefs but through its deeds and preservation of democracy, human rights and freedom.

Turning to the Syrian situation, Geagea voiced support to the Syrian people's right to enjoying liberties, saying "it is due time for them to live their life as they wish."
He renewed confirmation that the solution to the Syrian situation lies in the holding of a general popular referendum under the direct supervision of the Arab League and Security Council.
----------------L.Y

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Politics - (CORRECTED) Sleiman leaves to Doha, urges regulating public finance
 

Mon 5/03/2012 18:50

NNA - 05/03/2012 - President Michel Sleiman urged on Monday political forces and officials to set up foundations for solving the public finance spending issue within a legal course that would serve both the nation and citizen.

Sleiman will leave Monday afternoon to Doha to partake in the Arab Communication Conference for Fighting Poverty with Technology that will be opened Tuesday noon in Doha.

Separately, Sleiman received at Baabda Palace Information Minister Walid Daouk and reviewed with him overall developments at the local and regional scenes as well as ministerial affairs.
A delegation of Quds Supporting body headed by Ahmad Darwish Al-Kurdi visited Baabda and discussed with him regional developments..

The President also received the Pharmacists Syndicate Chief Ziad Nassour who informed the host of his being elected as a member in the French Academy for Pharmacy.

Amongst the President's visitors have been former deputies Samir Azar, Mansour Al-Bon and Fares Souaid.
-----------A.M.

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Politics - Mikati follows up political, financial dossiers
 

Mon 5/03/2012 18:33

NNA - 5/3/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Monday met with Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour, over the current general situation.

Minister of Finance, Mohammad Safadi, had also been to the Grand Serail this evening for a meeting with Mikati over an array of ministerial affairs.

The Prime Minister later received former minister Alain Tabourian, before meeting with Head of Beirut Municipality, Bilal Hamad.
 

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Politics - Jumblatt: we'll not respond to vanquished "Shabiha"
 

Mon 5/03/2012 17:42

NNA - 05/03/2012 - Deputy Walid Jumblatt said he would not respond to the demonstration set yesterday by "Shabiha" - pro-Syrian regime supporters -, explaining that their yesterday's performance exhibited their vanquished condition amidst the current developments in Syria.

Jumblatt's fresh stance came Monday in the context of his weekly editorial to Al-Anbaa newspaper published by the Progressive Scialist Party.

The deputy slammed the Syrian regime as standing beside Israel under the forged expression of resistance and rejectionist front in face of the Zionist entity. To this effect, Jumblatt recalled the arrest of the national Palestinian symbol Yasser Arafat in 1966 that happened under a command from late Syrian President Hafez Assad, who was Syria's Interior Minister during that time.

Jumblatt regretted the "genocide", as he termed, practiced by the regime against the people in Homs, calling upon the Lebanese authority to take enough concern about Syrians fleeing the regime's savage assault, as he put it.

Separately, Deputy Jumblatt met in London with British Foreign Minister William Hague, in presence of State Minister for Foreign Affairs Lord Howell, at the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry. Talks reportedly focused upon overall developments in Arab countries, notably in the East Mediterranean region.
 

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Politics - Qahwaji meets US military delegation, UNIFIL Chief, others
 

Mon 5/03/2012 17:36

NNA - 5/3/2012 - Lebanese Army Commander, General Jean Qahwaji, on Monday met with US Central Command Cheif, Colonel Kenneth Tovo, over bilateral ties between both the Lebanese and American armies.

US ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly, also attended the meeting, whereby Qahwaji voiced gratefulness for the US authorities for their keen concern over promoting the level of military cooperation with the Lebanese army, and the implementation of UN resolution 1701.

Separately, Qahwaji received at his office in Yarze the Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Major-General Paolo Serra, with talks touching on the security situation along the Lebanese southern borders.

A delegation of the Lebanese national forces and parties also visited Qahwaji today.
 

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Politics - Jamaa Islamiah, PSP, Future gather in solidarity with Syrian opposition
 

Mon 5/03/2012 17:08

NNA - 5/3/2012 - The Jamaa Islamiah on Monday organized a solidarity gathering with the Syrian opposition in the town of Barja, in presence of PSP Minister for the Displaced, Alaaeddine Terro, Future Deputy Mohammad Hajjar, and MP Imad Hout.

In his word, Terro considered that the disassociation policy adopted by Lebanon towards the crisis in Syria is, albeit not positive, advantageous for the time being so as to shirk new rifts among the Lebanese.

"The Lebanese are divided over the Syrian affair, but not any party whosoever is entitled neither to direct Lebanon's destiny nor to sow seeds of strife therein, in favor of Syria's regime or people," he said.

"A stable, strong, and secure Lebanon is per se protection for the Syrian people and not to the regime," he deemed.

He also said that the Syrian people would certainly triumph over all kinds of challenges.

MP Hout, for his part, renewed calls upon the Arab League and the international community to acknowledge the Syrian National Council as the representative of the Syrian people, and to back this council with all political, moral, and financial means.

He also called to help the "free Syrian army" at the logistic level in order that it should be able to protect Syrian civilians from what he termed as "the savagery" of the regime's forces.

In turn, Deputy Hajjar reminded that late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri had endeavored to modernize and develop democratic practices in Syria, something that he believes it would have preserved the rights of Syrian citizens, protect freedoms and the democratic parliamentary system in Lebanon, and fostered sane Lebanese-Syrian ties.
 

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Politics - Ali Hassan Kahlil: Lebanon's disassociation policy means standing beside Syria's unity
 

Mon 5/03/2012 16:12

NNA - 05/03/2012 - Public Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the disassociation policy adopted by the Lebanese government towards the Syrian crisis meant that Lebanon must side with Syria's security stability and national unity.

Khalil's stance came during a religious ceremony commemorating two resistance martyrs and the massacre in Maarake's Hussainiyya of South Lebanon.

Khalil said Lebanon should not be a location for launching attacks against Syria, as any hostility to Syria would not at all serve Lebanon.

After all, he explained, Syria has always supported the resistance, and so, Lebanon must never think of causing the country any harm. Accordingly, Khalil called for controlling the Lebanese Syrian borders and prevent any arms smuggling into Syria.

Khalil also called for local dialogue that could alone anchor Lebanon's stability and national unity.
A.M>

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Politics - Aoun slams rivals over 'fleeing' Parliament session
 

Mon 5/03/2012 15:41

NNA - 5/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Michel Aoun on Monday said the 11-billion-dollar project law proposed by the current minority was behind derailing today's Parliament session.

The Head of the Change and Reform Bloc wondered at his rivals' performance, who had proposed an urgent law but "fled" the [legislative] session.

Aoun made these remarks following a meeting at the Parliament today with House Speaker, Nabih Berri, Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, Hezbollah Deputy Mohammad Raad, and Marada leader MP Sleiman Franjieh.
Aoun's bloc's Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Gebran Bassil, and Mount Deputy Talal Arslan later joined the meeting.

Lawmakers were called to convene today in a parliamentary session aimed to delve into extra-budgetary spending. But a boycott by opposition March 14 MPs and Deputies from Walid Jumblatt's bloc duly disallowed the session as quorum lacked.
 

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Politics - Sleiman leaves to Doha, urges regulating public finance
 

Mon 5/03/2012 14:45

NNA - 05/03/2012 - President Michel Sleiman urged on Monday political forces and officials to set up foundations for solving the public finance spending issue within a legal course that would serve both the nation and citizen.

Sleiman will leave Monday afternoon to Doha to partake in the Arab Communication Conference for Fighting Poverty with Technology that will be opened Tuesday noon in Doha.

Separately, Sleiman received at Baabda Palace a delegation of Quds Supporting body headed by Ahmad Darwish Al-Kurdi.

He also received the Pharmacists Syndicate Chief Ziad Nassour who informed the host of his being elected as a member in the French Academy for Pharmacy.

Amongst the President's visitors have been former deputies Samir Azar, Mansour Al-Bon and Fares Souaid.
-----------A.M.

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Politics - Sahili: Boycotting session misuse of democracy
 

Mon 5/03/2012 13:58

NNA - 5/3/2012 MP Nawwar Sahili Monday said not attending legislative session is a negative use of democracy.

Loyalty to the Resistance bloc member also said that the opposition was using "a worse method than it ever did."

The MP went on to say that the LBP 8.9 trillion is a current issue for the government has presented a project related to the current and actual spending mechanism whereas the USD 11 billion is an ancient matter and needs to be solved.

L.W.

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Politics - Moussawi, Plumbly meet
 

Mon 5/03/2012 13:33

NNA - 5/3/2012 Hezbollah international relations responsible Ammar Moussawi held talks Monday about domestic and regional developments during his meeting with the UN Special coordinator for Lebanon Dereck Plumbly.


L.W.
 

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Politics - Habib refuses blaspheming friend states
 

Mon 5/03/2012 12:48

NNA - 5/3/2012- "Lebanese Forces" Parliamentary bloc member, Farid Habib said," all squares are open for those who would like to demonstrate democratically and peacefully to express their opinion, but it is not allowed to blaspheme friendly states which had always tried to keep Lebanon healthy from its political and economic crisis."

The MP added that those who did so will not succeed in condemning the victim and setting free the killer.

He confirmed that those states take the Lebanese into their custody and help in their success and they did not at any time offend Lebanon.

L.Y.R/N.AF

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Politics - Houry: Financial dossier change free
 

Mon 5/03/2012 12:39
Ammar Houry Monday said no change has come up on the financial dossier especially that a prior consent had already been set to figure out a mutual solution.

"We refuse to be false witnesses on approaching one dossier without the other hence, we shall use our democratic right to boycott the session," Future bloc member said.

The MP also told Al-Sharek radio that the National Struggle Front's stance was "logical", "impartial", and "bore honorable characteristics."

Pertaining to yesterday's pro- and anti-President Bashar Assad demonstrations staged by Salafists and the Baath Party at Down Town Beirut, Houry depicted the scene to be democratic as it expressed what political life ought to be in Lebanon.

"Freedom to protest is stipulated in the constitution and freedom of expression is sacred regardless of content," he noted.


L.W.

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Politics - Mousawi: Our political wisdom behind country's stability
 

Mon 5/03/2012 12:33

NNA - 5/3/2012 - Loyalty to the Resistance Member of Parliament Nawaf al Mousawi said that the wisdom of the political party of March 8 is behind Lebanon's stability.

Mousawi, who was speaking in a memorial service in Aita al Shaab town, stressed that those who call for Lebanon's disassociation, as in the case of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, should apply this principle on Syria.

"This principle means that Lebanon should exercise its full authority over it territories and each security apparatus should undertake all its responsibility. This also means that Lebanon should stop meddling in Syrian affairs."

He added that the correct principle which everybody should consider is that stability in Lebanon is linked to the stability in Syria.

Mousawi argued that March 8 has refrained from being drawn into a debate initiated by some parties in the country, warning that such practices could only lead to strife.

"Yes this country owes once again its stability to the resistance. This Cabinet must shoulder its responsibility towards its citizens and therefore must tackle all the livelihood files of the Lebanese."

Mousawi stressed that the best way to solve the debate over the $11 billion is to refer this file to the Accounting Department to issue the final verdict on this controversial matter.

The MP added that no one can scrap the resistance from the Lebanese formula, calling on all sides to accept this fact.

O.H

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Politics - Hout rejects using double standards in dealing with spending file
 

Mon 5/03/2012 11:48

NNA - 5/3/2012- Member of Parliament (MP) Imad Hout called upon authority not to use double standards in dealing with the spending file.

He considered that some cabinets spent in similar circumstances more than the limit they had no matter who was the Premier at that time.

The MP called for "closing the cabinet spending file and the previous stage with all the mistakes of both parties (March 8 and 14) without any favoritism for Lebanon's benefit," adding that some of (March 8) are trying to keep the spending file pending to benefit from it during the electoral campaigns in 2013 putting their interest above that of the country.

Hout confirmed , "the opposed party (March 14) has the right to express its opinion within the constitutional frame," pointing out to the possibility of not attending the parliamentary sessions until a settlement is reached.

L.Y.R/N.AF

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Politics - Abboud: Jumblatt part of cabinets which spent $11 billion
 

Mon 5/03/2012 11:40
NNA - 5/3/2012 - Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud stressed that Deputy Walid Jumblatt was a part of the cabinets that spent $11 billion.


He pointed out that Jumblatt has own way of political thinking, a method which is not understandable by all sides.

The minister stressed, however, that Jumblatt is still with the majority".

Abboud told "Voice of Lebanon"- Freedom and Dignity radio on Monday that considering the $11 billion strife is a critical word, adding that "this issue led to resort to the tribunal to avoid strife".

The minister said that all the smoke bombs were to cover the report of the World Bank which was very important.

Abboud pointed out to the "possibility of resorting to this bank through a committee headed by the latter to detect violations which took place at that time."


A.A.M

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Politics - Legislative session adjourned
 

Mon 5/03/2012 11:22

NNA - 5/3/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri Monday postponed legislative session till 15th due to lack of quorum.

L.W.

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Politics - Fatfat: Budgets not discussed because Berri closed Parliament
 

Mon 5/03/2012 11:21

NNA - 5/3/2012- Member of Parliament (MP) Ahmad Fatfat told "Voice of Lebanon- Voice of Freedom and Dignity" on Monday that all previous cabinets from 2006 to 2010 sent the budgets to the parliament, but they were not discussed because Speaker Nabih Berri closed the parliament.

He explained that they support any international auditing with no limits.

The MP said that the Finance Minister is not the only one responsible for the $11 billion , pointing out that all the ministries which spent that money are responsible too."

Fatfat added, "Former Prime Minister Fouad Seniora cabinet sent on 25 May 2007 a decree in which it asked for international auditing for the public accounting, but the other party (March 8) refused this request."

L.Y.R/N.AF

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Politics - Berri meets Mikati , Aoun, Raad ,Franjieh.
 

Mon 5/03/2012 11:19

NNA - 5/3/2012- Speaker of the parliament Nabih Berri is meeting at his office in the parliament with Premier Najib Mikati and deputies Michel Aoun , Mohammad Raad and Suleiman Franjieh.

L.Y.R/N.AF

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Politics - Nahhas rules out legislative quorum
 

Mon 5/03/2012 11:05

NNA - 5/3/2012 - Economy and Trade Minister Nicolas Nahhas Monday said it appears that there won't be any quorum in today's legislative session.

Minister Nahhas told Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio that the important thing was to have Lebanese and politicians agree on means to avoid crisis.

"We stand before a voting process for quarrels political movement was being built on are gradually cringing," he said.

L.W.

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Politics - Sleiman, Daouk meet
 

Mon 5/03/2012 10:26

NNA - 5/3/2012 - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman discussed most recent up-to-dates during his meeting with Information Minister Walid Daouk.

Both sides delved into the information Ministy's affairs.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Ghanem: All sides in Cabinet took part in $11 billion spending
 

Mon 5/03/2012 09:58

NNA - 5/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Robert Ghanem said that all parties which were part of the successive governments took active part in spending the controversial $11 billion, assuring that this issue is purely technical but has taken a political dimension.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon, the MP praised the position of MP Walid Jumblatt's bloc which has decided to boycott today's parliamentary session designed to discuss the issue of the $11 billion which was spent above the official budget ceiling.

"The only solution to this issue is to rise above these narrow differences in order to preserve the stability of the country. We do not need further polarization especially since the $11 billion file has been carefully studied and reviewed by the parliamentary budget and finance committee," Ghanem explained.

He commended the legislative role played by Speaker of the House Nabih Berri and supported his proposal to form a joint committee to study the $11 billion file.

O.H

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Politics - Gemayel returns from Rome and Kheireddine heads to Paris
 

Sun 4/03/2012 21:08

NNA - 4/3/2012 - Kataeb Party Head, President Amine Gemayel, returned to Beirut Sunday coming from the Italian Capital, Rome.

On the other hand, State Minister Marwan Kheireddine left Beirut today heading for the French Capital, Paris.

R.Sh.
 

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Politics - Saad: March 8th Forces are plotting to paralyze the Parliament's work
 

Sun 4/03/2012 21:08

NNA - 4/3/2012 - MP Antoine Saad warned Sunday against tampering, once again, with the Parliament through new scenarios plotted for by March 8th Forces, in a bid to hinder constitutional and institutional life. In addition, he accused March 8th Forces of seeking to paralyze the Parliament Council's work, so as to succumb the State to the "Damascus-Tehran" axis.

Saad referred to the moves adopted by deputies of the "National Struggle Front," especially the efforts exerted by MP Walid Jumblatt, which aim for finding a solution to the public expenditure issue, in a bid to safeguard the country and protect its constitutional institutions. He expressed herein his belief that the aforementioned deputies shall not attend the parliamentary session if MP Jumblatt�s efforts fail to succeed. On the other hand, Saad accused "Change and Reform Bloc" Head, MP Michael Aoun, as aiming for receiving "taxation dues" for the period he did not partake in the government!

Over incidents in Syria, Saad considered that the rising tension and killing caused by the Asad regime calls for clear-cut and strict decisions, similar to the stands adopted by the Saudi Kingdom. He called for international interference to rescue the Syrian people from the hands of the Asad regime; adding that the "Syrian Free Army" ought to be supported with ammunition so as to ensure its steadfastness in fighting against the oppressing regime.

R.Sh.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Merehbi calls for facilitating the entrance of Syrians seeking refuge into Lebanon
 

Sun 4/03/2012 21:07

NNA - 4/3/2012 - MP Mou�een Merehbi called Sunday on the President of the Republic and Prime Minister to instruct all concerned sides and public administrations to facilitate the entrance of Syrians seeking refuge inside Lebanon, and speeding-up the process of aiding them. In addition, he called for facilitating the admission of Syrian casualties into various hospitals in the Beqaa, in order to receive the necessary medical attention they need.

Merehbi called on the UN and the Higher Refuge Committee to establish temporary camps for providing to said refugees until suitable housing facilities are secured.

On the other hand, Merehbi thanked the people of Akkar, Beqaa and Tripoli for their warm hospitality and assistance; calling on all Lebanese to stand by their Syrian brethrens and aiding them in all possible ways.

R.Sh.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Baabda Palace Itinerants Today
 

Sun 4/03/2012 17:33

N.N.A. March 4, 2012 Maronite patriarch Beshara Rahi and, former army general Michel Aoun separately met with president Michel Sleiman and senior aides during their stop-over at Baabda Presidential Palace today. No further disclosure as per meetings' outcome were available as yet.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rai critical of Arab Spring
 

Sun 4/03/2012 17:22

NNA - 04/03/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, expressed apprehension about a so-called Arab Spring turning into winter.

The Patriarch and, in an interview on Reuters News Agency, declared that almost half a million Christian refugees leaving Iraq and all this violence around us betray the notion of an Arab Spring.

He expressed readiness to co-exist peacefully with moderate Islam saying the real peril comes from the extremist groups rather than the moderate mainstream.

The Patriarch denied the notion of reforms being implemented by violence and the force of arms.

He concluded that no one is capable of giving a positive estimation of the outfall.

He defended the Syrian regime against its critics arguing that Assad was the only secular Arab Leader.

He however denounced violence meted by the regime against its people. The senior cleric favored a diplomatic solution to the present unrest and unsettled relations between Syria and Lebanon.

He expressed fears about the present unrest turning into a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Alawis and ended on a note that this would negatively affect the situation in Tripoli.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rival pro and anti-Assad demonstrations in Down Town Beirut
 

Sun 4/03/2012 15:12

NNA - 04/02/2012 - Two pro and anti-Assad rival demonstrations passed off peacefully in Down-Town Martyrs' Square thanks to army and security effectives. Both demonstrations were separated by a 200-meter-wide buffer of barbed wires manned by army and security personnel under the supervision of Interior minister Marwan Charbel.

Taking the word in the anti-Assad demonstration has been Salafist Cleric, Ahmad Assir, who qualified the regime in Damascus as tyrannical and reigning over thousands of killed maimed or displaced Syrians from Homs alone. He agreed with Assad's utterance about facing a world conspiracy albeit, this was rather a plot against the Syrian people as he said.

He allayed Christian fears over their future saying Assad himself was responsible for sowing fear into their heart. He urged them to stay on and coexist peacefully with their Muslim compatriots because the Zionist project wishes to see the area emptied of its Christians.

At the Azariyeh square, pro-Assad branch of the Lebanese Baath, staged their own demonstration with senior party official Ibrahim Issa making a speech in which he reiterated Assad's talk about a conspiracy meted to his regime. Issa spoke about special relations binding Syria and Lebanon and as such Lebanese Baathists refuse to make out of Lebanon an anti Assad regime staging post.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mikati content with quiet Sunday
 

Sun 4/03/2012 14:44

NNA - 04/03/2012 PM Najib Mikati praised peaceful and civilized sit-ins that took place Sunday afternoon, and congratulated both army and security apparatuses for measures taken to preserve stability.

Two opposing rallies transpired today in Martyrs Square, Beirut, one opposing regime of Bashar Assad and the second one adhering to it. Citizens feared that the situation might escalate into violence and spiral out of control. However, the day passed without incident.

"Freedom of expression is a legitimate thing, and the government abides by protecting it within limits of the law," explained the Premier.

"We wish...on all [Lebanese] to prioritize national interest above all else."

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - (update) Charbel: Don't Fight or Differ for Others!
 

Sun 4/03/2012 14:33

NNA - 04/03/ 2012 - Minister of the Interior Marwan Charbel, prodded the Lebanese not to fight among themselves or differ over other people's issues.
The minister's promptings came during an inspection tour of Martyrs' Square where he saw for himself security effectives in anticipation of unforeseen eventuality between pro and anti-Assad demonstrators.

He justified wide spread apprehension emanating from insecure conditions in the country. The minister however expressed desire for unity of ranks based on the assumption that both sides of the Lebanese divide seemed determined to avoid any confrontation and that all what was left for them was army and security who dealt impartially with all.

Charbel qualified both demonstrations as democratic expressions of opinion condoned by the Constitution. He indicated that all was under control and recalled that both groups were essentially Lebanese who preserved full right to differ over contested issues albeit, he preferred not seeing any similar future demonstrations.

G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Gemayel: Syrian events bound to go forward
 

Sun 4/03/2012 14:24

NNA - 04/03/2012 Events in Syria cannot go backwards, and present regime must resign to changing times that demand power rotation, according to former President Amine Gemayel on Sunday.

Head of the Kataeb Party addressed an audience during a lecture he gave at Malta University in Rome, as part of his visit to Italy.

"The international community must take a stern stance that would save [Syrian] civilians and work as a safety net against injustice of the administration during transition period," he said.

"The Syrian regime is attempting to appear moderate by addressing a message to the international community and Israel stating that the alternative to current rule is fundamentalism," he analyzed that such a message would threaten Israel's future security in light of what Salafist extremism would do in case it assumed power.

The veteran politician called for the rise of a new culture in the region which caters for democracy and preserves the voice of minorities.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sharbel: Don't Fight or Differ for Others!
 

Sun 4/03/2012 14:12

NNA - 04/03/ 2012 - Minister of the Interior Marwan Sharbel, prodded the Lebanese not to fight among themselves or differ over other people's issues.
The minister's promptings came during an inspection tour of Martyrs' Square where he saw for himself security effectives in anticipation of unforeseen eventuality between pro and anti-Assad demonstrators.

Sharbel qualified both demonstrations as democratic expressions condoned by the Constitution. He indicated that all was under control and recalled that both groups were essentially Lebanese preserving full right to differ over contested issues albeit, he preferred not seeing any similar future demonstrations.

G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rival rallies in Beirut carry banner of Syrian cause
 

Sun 4/03/2012 13:30

NNA - 04/03/2012 Two opposing sit-ins are taking place Sunday under heavy security measures at Martyrs Square in Beirut, one supporting the uprising of the Syrian people, called for by Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, and the second vowing allegiance to Bashar Assad and pioneered by the Baath party.

The Syrian people revolted over eleven months ago against reign of the Assad family, handed down from father to son, and demanded ousting of Bashar Assad. This was met with a violent crackdown by the regime, which claimed that terror groups were wreaking havoc on the country.

Two hundred meters separated between the two rallies, as security apparatuses setup road blocks between them. Security forces also carried out thorough inspections of cars coming into the area.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - NSF to boycott House session in case dispute not resolved: Aridi
 

Sun 4/03/2012 12:52

NNA - 04/03/2012 Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Ghazi Aridi, of the National Struggle Front (NSF), said Sunday that members of the Front planned not to attend the legislative session Monday unless a settlement is reached on dispute over government spending.

Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned a House session on February 23 after several opposition MPs walked out in protest against a proposal of a bill that legalizes the $5.9 billion spending made by Premier Najib Mikati's cabinet in 2011, but overlooks legality of $11 billion spent by previous cabinets of Foad Siniora and Saad Hariri, between 2006 and 2009.

"The government spending in 2011 is no different than the spending under previous governments, which was also illegal, but a blind eye was turned to it in order to facilitate state work," he noted.

"Our position is not aimed to support March 14 forces or cause a lack of quorum in the interest of a party at the expense of another," he told Voice of Lebanon radio.

"The legislative session shall not influence the work of government," he added, saying that the objective of the NSF was to increase productivity of the incumbent government and to reduce tension in the country.

The Minister described the dispute over financial matters as "political" as he praised the "exceptional and positive" role recently assumed by Speaker of the House Nabih Berri.

Within the same context he called upon political parties in Parliament to determine legal spending limit, while maintaining control over finances.

In response to a question on the recent visit of Sheikh Ahmad el-Assir to MP Walid Jumblatt, Minister Aridi said Jumblatt has never supported the positions of the Sheikh, who called for a rally today in Down Town Beirut to hail support for the Syrian people against violent crackdown of regime on their uprising.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi presides over mass for organ donors
 

Sun 4/03/2012 12:14

NNA - 04/03/2012 Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rahi presided over Sunday Mass at Bkerki, blessing organ donors.

The patriarch stressed in his homily on the role of schools and media in the education and the dissemination of spiritual, human and social values of respect for self and other.

"Schools must provide national education, founded on the principles of freedom and cooperation, equality in rights and obligations, acceptance of others, respect for human rights and knowledge of the national heritage."

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Nasrallah: Liberation of Jerusalem is near
 

Sun 4/03/2012 12:07

NNA - 04/03/2012 Hezbollah Chief, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, addressed his supporters Sunday during a conference on the announcement of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, telling them that they are closer to achieving the goal of the liberation of Al-Quds at this time more than ever before, and calling upon every Muslim and Christian to assume ethical responsibility towards Jerusalem.

Nasrallah spoke at Rissalat Complex south of Beirut earlier this morning.

"Jerusalem is being Judaized and desecrated by Israeli settlers," he said as he confirmed that negotiations with the Jews was not a viable option.

"We hold the responsibility of the continuing occupation of Al-Quds," Nasrallah evoked religious identity of both Christians and Muslims in his calls for the liberation of Jerusalem, "the case of Jerusalem is a unique one as it is a holy city for Muslims and Christians around the world."

On that note, he warned that there were ongoing intensive efforts to declare Al-Quds as the eternal capital of the Zionist entity. If that were to happen, each person would be held accountable for the loss of the holy city on doom's day, according to the Chief.

"This needs action and seriousness from all of us...the firmness of the resistance axis from Iran to Al-Quds makes the goal of liberating the holy city a realistic one."

Nasrallah hailed the resistance's achievements in Palestine and Iraq. "The significant changes in Iraq, Egypt and momentous changes within the Zionists entity indicate that Al-Quds liberation is near."

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Geagea, Bin Jasem discuss array of political issues
 

Sun 4/03/2012 11:42

NNA - 04/03/2012 - Lebanese Forces Leader, Samir Geagea, and during the second day of his courtesy visit to Qatar, convened with Qatari PM and Foreign Affairs Minister, Hamad Bin Jasem II. Conferees reportedly tackled the Lebanese situation, the Syrian crisis and most developments at the regional level.

According to LF media bureau, Geagea praised Qatari role in the GCC and the Arab League. He also hailed Qatar's efforts that serve the interest of the Middle East and play a positive role in its prosperity.

R.K./R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman meets with Abu Faour
 

Sat 3/03/2012 18:36

NNA - 3/3/2012 - President of the Republic, General Michel Sleiman, met Saturday with Social Affairs Minister, Wael Abu Faour, who visited him at Baabda Palace this afternoon. Talks centered on the general prevailing situation and contacts underway for the parliament session upcoming Monday. Abu Faour also updated the President on projects at his Ministry.

R.Sh.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved



 

Politics - Mikati's Ready for Tomorrow
 

Sat 3/03/2012 17:42

NNA - 3/3/2012 - Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati, announced full readiness in the face of any eventuality regarding tomorrow's Islamist-led anti-Assad demonstrations.

The P.M. reportedly instructed Interior minister Marwan Charbel to take extra measures to ensure the safety of participants in the "rival demonstrations." He stressed need to keep demonstrators apart in order to make sure that both marches pass off peacefully and without violence.
G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Bassil-Qortbawi at Batroun Courts
 

Sat 3/03/2012 17:31

NNA - 3/3/2012 - Justice minister Shakeeb Qortbawi and Energy minister Gebran Bassil, inspected Batroun and Douma High Court where they were shown around by a number of senior judges and law-makers.

Taking the word minister Qortbawi credited the ruling team to which he belongs with working together in order to lay the foundations of a law-based nation-state. He defined his main concern as being that of ensuring the independency of the Lebanese judicial system. Qortbawi wishes to see all citizenry well-preserved by righteous judges and legal procedures.

Energy minister Bassil for his part told magistrates that his only abode rests with judges and aspired to see them functioning correctly and effectively. He concluded that the court system must prove itself competent enough in defining true reformers from faked ones. He accused them of only striving to maintain a generalized state of corruption.
G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved








 

Politics - Charbel: Tomorrow is a day as usual!
 

Sat 3/03/2012 17:05

NNA - 3/3/2012 - Minister of the Interior, Marwan Charbel, announced tomorrow a normal day with security business proceeding ahead as usual. The minister's reassurances came in the wake of a high-ranking security meeting attended by police, gendarmes and army Intelligence topbrass at the ministry today.

Anticipating anti-Assad demonstrations organized by Lebanese Islamists in a number of towns and cities, the minister said tight security measures would be taken to ensure a peaceful passing of marches. He found no problem with people expressing themselves on the street provided of course that they conduct themselves in a fairly democratic way.

He concluded that his forces would prevent any fifth column from fishing in troubled water or dragging the country into an unforeseen situation.

G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Ein-Teeneh Itinerants Today
 

Sat 3/03/2012 15:56

NNA - 3/3/2012 - Special U.N. Emissary to Lebanon Derek Plumbly held talks with House Speaker Nabih Berri and Senior Amal aides with no immediate report as per meeting's outcome.

Newly-accredited Chilean ambassador to Lebanon Jose Mechanika came over to Ein Teeneh to see Berri on a courtesy visit in presence of senior Amal aides.

Among itinerant Ein-Teeneh visitors were deputy of the House Nayla Moawwad and senior Iraqi pro- Muqtada Sadr cleric SMAYSEEM Ali who extended to him a special invitation to attend a Sadr-sponsored international Shia conference in Baghdad upcoming May.
G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved





 

Politics - Baabda Palace Itinerants
 

Sat 3/03/2012 15:54

NNA - 3/3/2012 - President of the Republic Michel Sleiman, ratified the Salaries and Wages of Lebanese University Faculty and untaxed Diesel oil Bills today. Henceforth diesel oil sells with no value-added tax on the market.

Among itinerant Baabda Palace visitors were Public Health minister Hasan Khalil who briefed the president over normal ministry functions amid preparations for upcoming Monday's parliament hearing. Deputy of the House Bahiyya Hariri reportedly discussed with the president domestic and regional matters deemed of public concern.

Army Commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji who briefed the president over the present security conditions in the country presented him with a number of demands pertaining to rearming and reequipping of the Lebanese military.

The president had more of the same with visiting Internal Security head Gen. Ashraf Reefi who reassured him as to security effectives deployed by his forces such that national security remains firmly under control.

Former minister Saleem Sayegh thanked the president for his expressed sorrow at the passing away of his mother.
G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved











 

Politics - Safadi for Civil Peace in Tripoli
 

Sat 3/03/2012 14:25

NNA - 03/03/2012 Minister of Finance Muhammad Safadi reiterated need for vital civil peace in Tripoli preferably through dialogue between civil social constituents in the northern city.

Earlier, he conferred with a number of Sunni clerics from the so-called Good Offices Commission led by Sheikh Muhammad Imam who seemed agreed with him over the need for reaching out and communicating with the "other" in a bid to ward off unforeseen strife. He also staked high hopes on peace-keeping by the Lebanese military.

The minister's utterance came before visiting interlocutors from Misbah Ahdab's "Middle-of-the-Road Bloc" when he stressed Lebanese Army's role in maintaining security

G.G.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved







 

Politics (Corrected) - Abboud: Siniora's position is feeble
 

Sat 3/03/2012 14:24

NNA - 03/03/2012 Tourism Minister sternly criticized March 14 camp for conflict over state budgets during past and present cabinets, lamenting during an interview Saturday the sad state of his ministry amid all this financial turmoil.

Current cabinet denounced the government under premiership of Foad Siniora for spending 11 billion USD. beyond the budget; while March 14 camp threatened to boycott parliamentary sessions during which a demand for 8900 trillion L.L. will be added to current state budget in order to cover government's fiscal year.

"The entire administration of the previous phase demands thorough inspection and auditing," said Abboud as he denied that political malice came into play in this matter. He described the position of Siniora as weak, following a press conference the latter held Friday to explain budgetary issues.

Turning to status-quo of the tourism ministry, Abboud remarked that there was a need for 265 tourism police members, while the current number was as low as 60.

"There are five thousand bodyguards for a number of political, military and judicial figures," he stated in contrast.

The Minister concluded that time and resources were being wasted on bureaucracy and disputes at a time when many economically beneficial touristic projects were left pending political decisions.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved














 

Politics - Abboud: Siniora's position is feeble
 

Sat 3/03/2012 14:11

NNA - 03/03/2012 Tourism Minister sternly criticized March 14 camp for conflict over state budgets during past and present cabinets, lamenting during an interview Saturday the sad state of his ministry amid all this financial turmoil.

Current cabinet denounced the government under premiership of Foad Siniora for spending 11 billion L.L. beyond the budget; while March 14 camp threatened to boycott parliamentary sessions during which a demand for 8900 billion L.L. will be added to current state budget in order to cover government's fiscal year.

"The entire administration of the previous phase demands thorough inspection and auditing," said Abboud as he denied that political malice came into play in this matter. He described the position of Siniora as weak, following a press conference the latter held Friday to explain budgetary issues.

Turning to status-quo of the tourism ministry, Abboud remarked that there was a need for 265 tourism police members, while the current number was as low as 60.

"There are five thousand bodyguards for a number of political, military and judicial figures," he stated in contrast.

The Minister concluded that time and resources were being wasted on bureaucracy and disputes at a time when many economically beneficial touristic projects were left pending political decisions.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved














 

Politics - Amal describes Syrian events as conspiracy - Sidon
 

Sat 3/03/2012 13:32

NNA - 03/03/2012 Sidon is the capital of resistance against Zionist aggression, hailed Amal movement MP Hani Qobeissy Sunday to fellow party members in the southern city, as he endorsed army, resistance and people equation against regional and domestic threats.

Amal's general assembly brought the movement's leading figures together over the consensus to isolate the country from events in Syria.

The Syrian regime has been systematically eradicating the opposition demanding ousting of President Bashar Assad for the past year.

Qobeissy claimed that events in Syria were a conspiracy hatched by the US and Israel in collaboration with certain "silent Arab countries."

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Harb opposes any manifestation of confessional nature
 

Sat 3/03/2012 13:22

NNA - 03/03/2012 MP Boutros Harb called on the government Sunday to ban any demonstration of a confessional nature in Lebanon, including the ones planned at Martyrs Square tomorrow.

Pro and against Bashar Assad demonstrations were scheduled to take place tomorrow in Down Town Beirut, amid fears of security disturbance. The Imam of a mosque in the southern city of Sidon, Sheikh Ahmed Asir, refused to heed state warnings against staging a peaceful sit-in in Martyrs Square in solidarity with the Syrian people against the deadly crackdown of the regime on protestors.

Harb held that such events of political and religious nature put the country and national unity in jeopardy, particularly during such a "critical phase," as he termed it.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Sfeir book-signing ceremony/Bkirky
 

Sat 3/03/2012 13:06

NNA - 03/03/2012 Four leading universities honored outgoing patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir at a special book-signing ceremony at the Lady's Chapel early Saturday.

All 4 universities of Lady of Louwayzeh, La Sagesse, Antonine and Kaslik Holy Spirit coauthored an illuminating book in honour of cardinal Sfeir in presence of Sfeir himself and Maronite patriarch Bshara Rahi and a number of leading clerics.

Also invited were Information minister Walid Daouk and representatives of all 3 presidents and leading politicians on both sides of the Lebanese divide.

Taking the word, deputy-president of Louwayzeh university Suheil Matar, Father Antoine Rajeh, Cardinal Kamil Zaydan, Father Masem Rahi, La Sagesse University Secretary-General Antoine Saad, Mousa Hajj From the Antonine University, academicians Jihan Ouwayt, Joy Tabet and Kaslik University lecturer Joseph Mkarzel read long excerpts from the book and paid tribute to the ex-patriarch who replied to them in kind.

Speakers, including patriarch Rahi, commended Sfeir for his leadership abilities particularly with regards to his adamant defense of Lebanese sovereignty and autonomy. The patriarch concluded that his predecessor spared no single day to serve the Church and that his whole life became a thanksgiving anthem for the Lord.

G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Lebanon must avoid resettlement conundrum - Amine Gemayel
 

Sat 3/03/2012 11:19

NNA - 03/03/2012 Former President Amine Gemayel told Italian press Saturday that Lebanese state must aid Syrian refugees while keeping attempts at resettlement in check, as he thanked the UNIFIL for keeping the peace in cooperation with Lebanese army.

Head of the Kataeb party, currently on a visit to Italy, addressed the escalating violence in Syria after almost a year of populous revolts against Bashar Assad's regime.

"Lebanon must uphold its humanitarian duty towards Syrian refugees, and carry out necessary statistic to survey their number...in order to avoid a resettlement problem, though be it of a different type." He added that events in Syria were a private matter.

Gemayel maintained that presence of United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFL) helped indirectly in isolating Lebanon from events in Syria, and preserve domestic calm.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Houry encourages expats to vote
 

Fri 2/03/2012 21:12

NNA - 02/03/2012 Lebanese expatriates will have a say in 2013 parliamentary elections, despite reports attempting to discourage them, according to a Friday press conference by MP Amar Houry during a visit to the USA.

A report leaked from Lebanese Foreign Ministry indicated that the poor number of expatriates wishing to vote in upcoming parliamentary elections did not prove optimistic.

"I call upon Lebanese expatriates to register their names at consulates, particularly supporters of March 14 Camp," said Houry, who cast doubt about the validity of leaked report.

"Attempting to portray Lebanese living abroad as unconcerned with the elections is not factual at all."

The MP, partaking in the seventh anniversary of assassination of PM Rafik Hariri, confirmed to March 14 supporters that once said bloc wins the elections, they planned to form a cabinet without including rival March 8 members, which proved to be a mistake once in the past.
R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Doubts shroud 2013 parliamentary elections - Nadim Gemayel
 

Fri 2/03/2012 19:47


NNA - 02/03/2012 MP Nadim Gemayel asserted Friday his support for the Syrian people, criticizing US administration's tolerant attitude towards Assad's regime, as he voiced uncertainty whether parliamentarian elections will take place in 2013.

The Syrian uprising began a year ago, with populous rallies calling for the ousting of President Bashar Assad. The situation quickly escalated into violence, with the regime claiming a terrorist attack on the country, while the people told of daily massacres against them as part of Assad's crackdown on the nation.

"Our democratic principles...urge us to stand by the Syrian people," said the senior member of the Kataeb party.

"In case the regime obliterated the opposition in Syria, it will attack Lebanon next."

Gemayel reassured US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that the Syrians who refused a tyrannical regime would not trade it for another. "I think Clinton will soon back off from her decision."

Domestically, the MP censured the cabinet, describing Lebanon as more of a farm than a state. And on that note, he doubted that a new electoral law would take effect.

"If this cabinet persisted, and the Syrian regime got toppled, I am afraid we will not have elections."

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Saudi Trade Minister leaves Beirut
 

Fri 2/03/2012 18:43

NNA - 2/3/2012 Saudi Trade and Industry Minister Tawfic Rabiaa left Beirut Friday, heading to Jeddah on board a private plane.

Bidding him farewell at the Airport have been Industry Minister Freij Sabonjian and Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Oseiri.
--------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hout: for the issuance of law to approve spending ceiling increase
 

Fri 2/03/2012 18:10

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Deputy Imad Hout issued a statement Friday elaborating Jamaa Islamiya's stance regarding the extra budgetary spending issue, saying that this matter necessitates the issuance of a law that allows spending ceiling increase from the year 2006 to 2011.

"The unity of motives and circumstances behind extra budgetary spending issue requires unity of standards to seek a legislative solution to this measure," Hout said.

The MP said that this matter can be accomplished through the issuance of a law that permits extra spending ceiling from 2006 to 2011, while maintaining House of Parliament and Court of Audit's powers to monitor and audit spending operations.
-----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved





 

Politics - Al-Assir confirms Downtown sit-in Sunday
 

Fri 2/03/2012 18:05

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir told a news conference Friday that the sit-in he has called for is still scheduled for Sunday in Martyrs Square, Beirut, denying rumors that the event was cancelled.

He noted that contacts with security apparatuses had been underway since last Saturday and that he had received a verbal approval from Beirut District Commissioner.

"There are parties affiliated to March 8 [camp] seeking to take to the street, block roads, and spark tensions in the Square. We live in a country and not in a jungle; the state must protect us. We are mobilizing in a peaceful rally and I call security apparatuses and the government to hit anyone who seeks riot with an iron fist," he said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Joumblat, Hamadeh bound to Paris
 

Fri 2/03/2012 18:04

NNA - 2/3/2012 Democratic Gathering Head Walid Joumblat and Deputy Marwan Hamadeh left Beirut Friday afternoon, heading to Paris.

On the other hand, Deputy Ahmed Fatfat returned to Beirut Friday, coming from the French capital.
--------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - European diplomat, National Struggle Front tackle developments with Berri
 

Fri 2/03/2012 17:56

NNA - 02/03/2012 - Speaker of the House Nabih Berri tackled general developments on Friday with European Parliament Vice President, Rowdy Krasta, and Parliament member, Mary Teresa Schmidt.

"We exchanged view points with the House Speaker over Arab uprisings and the situation in Syria, as well as Lebanon's role in safeguarding its internal unity and stability," Krasta said on emerging.

She said talks with the House Speaker also underscored the necessity of involving women in the Lebanese political life.

Berri later held talks with a delegation of the "National Struggle Front" Ministers.

On emerging, Aridi made clear that the meeting aimed at soothing all the rough gaps threatening of national disintegration.

"Our meeting with the House Speaker was extremely fruitful," Aridi said, explaining that the visit aimed to confirm that Monday's Parliament session would be a translation to the House Speaker's promises and MP Walid Jumblatt's calls for preserving tranquil dialogue. He deemed this essential for reaching a final agreement concerning issues of dispute, especially with regard to the heatedly debated extra-budgetary spending matter.

Berri also had an audience on Friday with MP Akram Chouhayeb and Mr. Bahiej Hamza. He also met with a delegation representing Tyre Cultural Forum headed by Dr. Omar Khaled.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved

















 

Politics - Abi Nasr reiterates importance of Lebanon's dissociation from Syria's developments
 

Fri 2/03/2012 16:49

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Change and Reform bloc member, MP Naamtallah Abi Nasr, confirmed once again that Lebanon needs to disassociate itself from the developments in Syria, warning from their repercussions on the Lebanese scene.

The Deputy made these remarks in an interview with OTV channel Friday, saying strife eruption in Lebanon would lead to the collapse of the whole country.

He called in this regard for adopting the positive neutrality policy towards various Arab affairs except for the war with Israel.

"Lebanon ought to be with Arabs, if they agreed, and neutral if they failed to do so," he remarked.

Abi Nasr considered that implementing the Taef agreement ousted the Christians from the political formula and dragged the country into a regime which rejects power rotation and disrespects the constitution and the state institutions.

The parliament member deemed as "democratic benefit" the participation of the Lebanese living abroad in the elections of 2013. He, however, doubted the Foreign Ministry's will to allow their participation as it had not yet organized a serious campaign for that particular goal.

He said this reflected a political stance suggested by parliamentary blocs' heads who feel threatened of such democratic step.

On a different note, Abi Nasr saw that foreigners' appropriation is a dangerous matter, noting that most of these deals were mainly taking place in Christian areas.

He accordingly called for adopting the principle of reciprocity between Lebanon and all the other countries.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


















 

Politics - Rahi launches new Bkerke website
 

Fri 2/03/2012 16:40

NNA - 02/03/2012 - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rahi launched on Friday a new website for Bkerki - www.bkerkenews.org.lb - in presence of a number of clergies and media figures.

Rahi expalined that this website spoke in the name of Maronite Patriarchate and Church and it differed from other websites, because "its sole political aim is to convey truth to all people."

Rahi said all activities carried out by the Church were just to serve truth, human beings and peoples.

"We know that much of media resources and technicalities were ill-used to destroy and confuse, via indecent programs, youth and families," said the Patriarch.

Accordingly, Rahi said, the Church must augment its presence and availability through these technicalities so as to address the ethical needs of man and direct him/her to the right track of faith.
A.M.

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Politics - Syrian ambassador in Yarze
 

Fri 2/03/2012 16:16

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, on Friday visited Lebanese Army Chief, General Jean Qahwaji, at his office in Yarze.

Qahwaji also met with the Secretary General of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council, Nasri Khoury.

The Army Commander later received a delegation of the Orthodox Gathering, with talks featuring high on the current general situation.
 

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Politics - Sleiman winds up visit to Czech Republic
 

Fri 2/03/2012 16:12
NNA - 2/3/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, on Friday met with a panel of Arab ambassador accredited in the Czech Republic, at his residence at Hilton Hotel, shortly before winding up a five-day state visit in Eastern Europe.

The President underlined that his visit to Romania and Czech aimed to anchor bilateral ties as well as to tout the Palestinian Cause, which he termed as "the source of constant tension in the region and worldwide."

He said the Palestinian Cause was the core of the Mideast conflict especially that terrorism, which has no link whatsoever to Islam, saw a good alibi in the injustice towards Muslims in Palestine.

Sleiman told the diplomats that he had explained to Romanian and Czech officials the ongoing democratic movement in the Arab world and which Lebanon upholds.

"This will not stop and it will reach all the countries; leaders can anticipate their people's claims through making required reforms," he reckoned.

"When it comes to Palestine, Democracy is [however] not applied according to the same criteria, which makes us fear that some growing Arab democracies might tilt to extremism," he deemed.

The President did not fail to stress that the Arab League, a main broker of the much-sought solution to the 11-month crisis in Syria, must recuperate its role "after it drifted away from its central cause." He capitalized the obligation to return to Arabism.

On the "Arab Spring," Sleiman called concerned parties to "work to curb fire from reaching their homes, whether by extinguishing it in their neighbors' or at least by settling on not to ignite it."

He also underscored the necessity that the Security Council undergoes reform amid development and evolution sweeping the world and the emergence of new states that ought to be represented.

On a different note, Sleiman flatly warned of a warfare in case of any violation of Lebanon's rights to offshore oil and gas resources in the Lebanese territorial waters, revealing that the exploration process would kick off soon.

On Lebanon's participation in the impending Arab summit in Bagdad, the President said "Lebanon is very concerned with the Arab League's meeting," adding that he would partake on the personal level, "unless something urgent occurred."

Separately, Sleiman skimmed through a fan of military industries with a delegation of Hersat Company for firearms and gun machines production, to whom he relayed a wish to provide Lebanon with weapons.

It is to note that the President's last day in Czech started with a meeting with Foreign Minister Karl Schwarzenberg, over the means to boost the two-pronged relations between both countries and an array of regional affairs.
 

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Politics - Geagea bound for Qatar
 

Fri 2/03/2012 15:52

NNA - 02/03/2012 - Lebanese Forces Leader, Samir Geagea, left Beirut on Friday in the company of his wife, MP Strida Geagea, in an official visit to Qatar.

Lebanese Forces Foreign Affairs Head, Pierre Abu Assi, and Mr. Fadi Salemeh are also accompanying Geagea on his Qatar trip.
R.H.

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Politics - Nasri Khoury from Serail: Mikati shows readiness to control borders
 

Fri 2/03/2012 14:54

NNA - 02/03/2012 - The Secretary General of the Supreme Syrian Lebanese Council, Nasri Khoury, said Prime Minister Najib Mikati showed him all readiness to enhance bilateral relation and cooperate with Syria to control the Lebanese Syrian borders and to anchor Syria's stability.

Khoury visited on Friday the Grand Serail where he notified Mikati of the council's activities in boosting ties between both countries.

Afterwards, Mikati received Vice-President of the European Parliament, Rodi Kratsa, who said Europe was concerned about developing the cultural growth policies in the region.

Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Toufic Bin Fawzan Al-Rabiha, accompanied by the Saudi Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri and head of the Economy and Works Group Raouf Abu Zaki, visited the Premier in the frame of the opening ceremony for the Lebanese Syrian Economic Forum that took place yesterday under the patronage of Prime Minister Mikati.

Amongst Grand Serail's visitors has been the Lebanese Ambassador to UNESCO, Silvi Fadlallah; and the director of STL's bureau in Beirut, Bert Lodge, who handed the host STL's third annual report which was to be submitted to UN Secretary General and Lebanese officials.
A.M.

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Politics - Siniora meets EU Parliament delegation
 

Fri 2/03/2012 14:48

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Head of Future parliamentary bloc, MP Fouad Siniora, on Friday tackled most recent political developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region, with Vice Head of the European Union Parliament, Rodi Krats, and MP Marie-Therese Sanchez.

The meeting took place at the Central House, in presence of Saad Hariri's advisor for foreign affairs, Mohammad Shatah.
 

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Politics - Gemayel conveys Italian government ongoing contact with UNIFIL contingent
 

Fri 2/03/2012 14:20

NNA - 2/3/2012 Kataeb head Amine Gemayel Friday said the Italian government is at constant contact with its UNIFIL contingent in order to maintain efficient international presence in South Lebanon.

During his meeting at Rome with the Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola, Gemayel said he has sensed steadfastness in the Italian stance to support Lebanon in achieving permanent stability.
"Rome deems 1701 the key to stability, security, and safety in Lebanon and the region," he noted.

The Italian Minister has, in turn, reassured Gemayel about the Italian government stance constancy toward Lebanon "regardless of governments' change in Italy."



L.W.

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Politics - Kabbani, Merehbi skim through general situation
 

Fri 2/03/2012 14:06

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Mufti of the Lebanese Republic, Sheikh Muhammad Rashid Kabbani, on Friday tackled with former MP Talal Merehbi general situation as well as the assault which targeted the Mufti's son.

Merehbi said Dar El-Fatwa is for Muslims and Lebanese in general.

"We should work for the country's sake and for the interest of the Sunnite," he added, uttering keenness on keeping Dar El-Fatwa away from political conflicts.

"We also seek cooperation and unity amongst Lebanese to reach way outs of the crises reoccurring in Lebanon," said Merehbi.
D.K.

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Politics - Aoun, Barazanji meet
 

Fri 2/03/2012 12:43

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Change and Reform bloc Head, MP Michel Aoun, Friday received at his Rabyeh residence the Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, Omar Barazanji, with whom he tackled the forthcoming Arab summit to be held in Iraq, as well as Arab developments.
D.K.

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Politics - Hmadeh disclose information on Jumblatt's initiative
 

Fri 2/03/2012 12:06

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Parliament member Marwan Hmadeh on Friday revealed that Deputy Walid Jumblatt was the first to present House Speaker Nabih Berri with a balanced and wise solution pertaining to the spending issue.

"The House Speaker, the Finance Minister and a number of Deputies took this suggestion into consideration," he explained during the press conference held by March 14 forces at the Parliament.

Hmadeh said a national initiative was in the hands of Speaker Berri, yet it seems that other parties exerted efforts to get in its way.
D.K.

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Politics - Harb: we will boycott legislative session if our proposal was declined
 

Fri 2/03/2012 12:06

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Deputy Boutros Harb announced in the press conference held Friday by March 14 forces that his camp will boycott the parliamentary session to be held on March 5 if its suggestion was refused.

Harb indicated that the suggestion presented by former Premier Fouad Siniora proved to the public that the accusations launched against him were sheer fabrications.

Harb considered that ratifying the government's project to solve the 2011 expenditures issue would not contribute in addressing the country's problems.

"It is a one-year solution which spares government's spending parliamentary supervisions," he estimated.

"Our choice is clear and final. We support the return of state power. We stand by the enhancement of our democratic regime and not by disfiguring it and turning it into a selective regime which only serves men in power," Harb declared.

The Deputy confirmed his camps clinging to exposing all expenditures and accounts to the supervision of the auditing department and the concerned judicial authority.

"We refuse to close these dossiers without making sure first of their authenticity and their abidance by the laws in force," the MP affirmed in this regard.

He finally called on House Speaker Nabih Berri to hamper the current majority's dictatorial policy adopted within a state which believes in national unity and dialogue.
D.K.

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Politics - Adwan says audit should include 1990 accounts
 

Fri 2/03/2012 11:58

NNA - 2/3/2012 - MP Georges Adwan Friday urged auditing in spending from 1990 till 2006.

Speaking at the March 14 conference held at the Parliament, Adwan said some insisted on scoring victories on the account of the country's stability and security.

"We ought not to forget the prevailing critical political, economic, and financial situation," Adwan noted.

The MP also said that this was the final opportunity.

"We either walk into a divided Parliament or we go Monday to the session," he said and added that the most important thing was where we would be taking the country after the session.

Concluding his word, Adwan uttered rejection to attend any session that does not adopt legal standards in a way to preserve the country's stability and security.

L.W.
 

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Politics - Siniora insist all budgets complied with legal procedures
 

Fri 2/03/2012 11:51

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora refuted allegations that the former cabinet under his presidency has illegally spent above the last approved budget, reminding that some of those who criticized him were part of the government they are now slamming.

Speaking during a press conference at the Parliament building, Siniora stressed that his government was forced to spend above the official ceiling to meet the pressing needs of the country.

He reminded that his Cabinet hammered out a draft budget in 2005 with LL10 trillion allocations but this bill did obtain the seal of approval from the government and parliament in view of the political and security circumstances which the country passed through at that time.

"As a result, Lebanon remained without a budget and was forced to abide by the last official budget."

He added that the successive Cabinets had one of two choices: either cripple all public institutions and facilities if the government was forced to stick to the last official budget or spend more money to cover the current expenditures and urgent needs of the country.

"Why did we go overboard in spending? The answer is simple: we needed to cover the deficit of Electricite du Liban or the country will experience more power rationing. We also beefed up spending to cover the salaries and end of service benefits of government employees and civil servants," Siniora explained.

The former prime minister argued that even the current government headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati exceeded the threshold of spending to meet certain obligations such as the increase in salaries for public staff.

"Those who are stirring the political dusts and initiate misleading information should remember that this Cabinet has also spent far more than the last approved budget."

He reiterated that the allocations made by his cabinet were all in accordance with existing laws and rules and has fully complied with the conditions set by the Accounting Department.

Siniora emphasized that even Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi admitted that the $11 billion have all been documented by the finance ministry.

O.H

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Politics - Pharaon supports President's electoral law stances
 

Fri 2/03/2012 10:41


NNA - 2/3/2012 - MP Michel Pharaon Friday propped up Lebanese President's words on adopting current electoral law if consensus lacks over adopting a new modern one.

Pharaon deemed government path to be no longer acceptable for, in his words, parties were escaping their responsibilities.

The MP told Voice of Lebanon radio that the Lebanese President and Premier are constantly seeking to cover up the government scandals, adding monopolizing citizens' rights has become very apparent.


L.W.

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Politics - Youssef: The $11 billion spending is documented
 

Fri 2/03/2012 09:50

NNA - 2/3/2012 - Future Parliamentary bloc member MP Ghazi Youssef told Voice of Lebanon that the former government has documented all the $11 billion which was spent above the budget ceiling and this has been done in accordance with the law.

"MP Ibrahim Kanaan claim that the $11 billion was spent above the official budget ceiling is not only inaccurate but blatant lies," Youssef said.

The MP stressed that all former Cabinets have abided by the draft budgets even if they were not approved by the parliament or government.

Youssef explained that spending exceeded the ceiling due to prevailing circumstances at that time.

O.H

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Politics - Sleiman: for preserving Taef Accord
 

Thu 1/03/2012 22:42

NNA - 1/3/2012 President of the Republic Michel Sleiman called for preserving Taef Accord through setting right constitutional flaws that hindered the state march on different intervals.

President Sleiman's words came in his address before Lebanese community members in Prague, during a reception held by Lebanese Charge D'Affaire Nadim Sourati at the Hilton Hotel.

Sleiman underlined the importance of protecting the Lebanese Army through its armament to render it the sole armed force in the country.

Turning to the regional situation, Sleiman said that Syria shall move to democracy which is inevitable.

On the other hand, President Sleiman, First lady Mrs. Wafaa Sleiman and his accompanying official delegation attended a dinner banquet held in their honor by Check President Vacklav Klaus at Prague palace.
----------------L.Y

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Politics - Hezbollah: Resistance arms right to Lebanon in face of occupier
 

Thu 1/03/2012 21:57

NNA - 1/3/2012 Commenting on UN Chief Ban Ki-moon's report on resistance's arms, Hezbollah stressed in a statement that these arms are a right to Lebanon to defend its lands and sovereignty in the face of Israeli occupation and intimidation.

"It seems that Ki-moom closes his eyes to perceive Israeli subversive acts, same as he gives no notice to Quds Judaization and Israeli terrorist practices in the occupied Palestine," Hezbollah said in a statement.

Hezbollah also underlined that resistance arms came to liberate the Lebanese territories which Ki-moon and his international institution have categorically failed in protecting these lands and imposing Israeli withdrawal from them.
-----------------L.Y

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Politics - Berri winds up visit to Cyprus
 

Thu 1/03/2012 20:34

NNA - 1/3/2012 Speaker of the House Nabih Berri returned to Beirut Thursday evening, winding up a two-day official visit to Cyprus where he held "fruitful talks" with Cypriot senior officials.

Talks reportedly touched on means of bolstering bilateral relations and cooperation between Lebanon and Cyprus in the various spheres.

Berri met with Cypriot President, Speaker, and ministers of foreign affairs, trade and industry.
-------------L.Y

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Politics - Sleiman pursues visit to Prague
 

Thu 1/03/2012 20:29

12 President of the Republic Michel Sleiman said that Syrians coming to Lebanon due to the unrest in Syria does not pose a problem, indicating that deep social ties bond the two countries together.

President Sleiman's words during a joint press conference with his Check counterpart Vaclav Klaus in the wake of wide official talks held at the Check presidential palace.

President Sleiman pronounced that the Lebanese state and humanitarian organizations are currently providing assistance to the Syrian families. He said "We deal with arriving Syrians to Lebanon as families and relatives rather than refugees."

The President also hoped that concerned Arab countries would be able to achieve a successful transfer to democracy away from fanaticism and violence. As Sleiman renewed Lebanon's commitment to international legal resolutions, he stressed the necessity of finding a just and comprehensive solution to the various facets of Arab-Israeli crisis, on the basis of international resolutions, Madrid Conference and Arab peace initiative.

Check President, for his part, said he undertook a very 'forthright and open' dialogue with President Sleiman affluent with friendship, saying they shared similar viewpoints regarding an array of existing problems in the complicated modern world.

President Klaus stressed the importance that Lebanon remains a place for dialogue among religions and civilizations, saying "Lebanon has always been like this...and shall always remain."

President Sleiman also indicated that Lebanese-Check talks touched on means of bolstering bilateral economic, trade, technical and cultural relations, notably in the fields of industry, agriculture, energy, communication and tourism.

On the other hand, Sleiman and his accompanying official delegation visited next "Hrzan Palace" affiliated to Check Premiership, where a wide meeting took place with Check Speaker Miroslava Nimkova.

The President, First Lady Mrs. Wafaa Sleiman and the official Lebanese delegation visited respectively the touristic, historical "Charles Bridge" and old town hall "Prague Municipality" headquarters.
-----------------L.Y

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Politics - Berri: visit to Cyprus is to cooperate on EEZ, oil levels
 

Thu 1/03/2012 19:09

NNA - 01/03/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri stressed Thursday that his visit to Cyprus came within progressing the bilateral relation on all levels and boosting cooperation with regard to the Exclusive Economic Zone and oil exploration issues.

Berri winded up an official visit to Cyprus by meeting today with the Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erato Kozakou Marcoullis, who affirmed the unavailability of any problem with Lebanon concerning the EEZ.

During a lunch banquet set in honor of Berri by the Lebanese Embassy in Limmasol, the Speaker said the disassociation policy adopted by the Lebanese government was to serve the public welfare of the nation on the security and stability levels.

"The disassociation policy guarantees that the Lebanese borders won't be a gateway to crisis, arms smuggling or violence...We are sure that the Lebanese want Syria to resume its security and stability."

Turning to oil file, Berri was wary that Israel might invest its agreements with Israel to violate Lebanon's rights to oil. Accordingly, Berri said, "We ask Cyprus to support the United Nations to carry out the demarcation of Lebanon's sea borders as well as the economic zone."

Eventually, Berri sternly assured that the local monetary and security situation was still stable despite some incidents, which were positively controlled by virtue of local sides and the Lebanese Army.

A.M>

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Politics - Mikati meets Rifi
 

Thu 1/03/2012 18:07

NNA - 1/3/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Thursday met at the Grand Serail with Internal Security Forces Chief, Major-General Ashraf Rifi.

Mikati had earlier received the family of late Nassib Lahoud.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Episcopal Committee for Christian-Islamic dialogue mobilizes to enhance coexistence
 

Thu 1/03/2012 17:01

NNA - 1/3/2012 - The Episcopal Committee for Christian-Islamic dialogue on Thursday held its periodic meeting in Mar Roukoz monastery, Dekwaneh, under the chairmanship of Bishop Issam Darwish.

The Committee tackled its work program for 2012 and noted that it would extend its work team to comprise new potentials specialized in dialogue inside and outside Lebanon.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Bishop Darwish said that work would mainly focus on introducing Muslims and Christians to both Islam and Christianity in a bid to shirk prejudgments and erroneous ideas.

He added that the Committee would be also working on capitalizing the common religious principles which form the mainstay to coexistence in one equality-based nation.

Work also includes that joint conferences and symposiums be held to skim through moral, ethical, and spiritual items, such as peace, human rights, mixed marriage, and religious freedoms.

Bishop Drawish announced that the Committee is scheduled to meet with Maronite Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi to hand him the draft of its work program.

The meeting also resulted into an agreement over holding a series of meetings and gatherings for youth and school students so as to broaden the dialogue culture among them.

 

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Politics - Moqbel meets Orthodox figures over union for institutions
 

Thu 1/03/2012 17:00

NNA - 01/03/2012 - The Orthodox associations and institutions responded Thursday to Deputy Prime Minister Samir Moqbel's invitation to hold a comprehensive meeting at his office in Rabieh, where attendees agreed on establishing a union for the Orthodox institutions and associations.

The meeting aimed to boost the Orthodox confession's position and resume its pioneer role in enhancing national unity and supporting coexistence.

The meeting included former Deputy House Speaker Elie Ferzli, former Deputy Salim Habib, the secretary general for the Orthodox Gathering Michel Tweini, and other Orthodox dignitaries.

A statement by the press office of Moqbel said the latter informed the attendees of his ongoing efforts to fill vacancies for Orthodox at public adminstrations.

A.M>

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Politics - Qahwaji, Pietton meet over military cooperation
 

Thu 1/03/2012 16:42

NNA - 1/3/2012 - Lebanese Army Chief, General Jean Qahwaji, and French ambassador to Lebanon, Denis Pietton, on Thursday met in Yarze over the means to boost bilateral cooperation on the military level.

Qahwaji also met with the state commissioner before the military court, Judge Saqr Saqr.

Talks reportedly touched on an array of affairs relevant to the military judiciary.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman, Klaus consent to activate signed agreements, hold new ones
 

Thu 1/03/2012 16:14

NNA - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman consented with his Czech counterpart Vaklav Klaus to activate bilateral relations on all levels through activating signed agreements and holding new ones for bilateral cooperation, notably on the economic and investment levels.

Talks between both men also tackled overall developments at the regional scene, notably Czech's stance towards the turmoil in the East Mediterranean region.

President Sleiman and his wife arrived in Prague Wednesday evening. Sleiman's trip was part of two state visits that also included Romania.

Sleiman reached Prague's Palace at 10:00 am (Czech's local time) where Klaus had organized an honorary reception for him in the outer yard of the palace.

Afterwards, Sleiman moved to the Throne Hall before going to the Brozik Hall where souvenirs were exchanged between the presidents and their wives.

A comprehensive meeting was eventually held at the Maraya Hall that included a number of Lebanese and Czech officials.
A.M.

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Politics - Regional developments top Gemayel, Italy's President talks
 

Thu 1/03/2012 15:51

NNA - 01/03/2012 - Most recent developments at the regional scene topped talks on Thursday between Kataeb Party Leader Amine Gemayel and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Gemayel, currently on a visit to Italy, visited the Italian President at Quirinal Presidential Palace in Rome.

Both men reportedly engaged in turmoil racking Syria and its repercussions on the Lebanese local scene.

"The meeting underscored the significant role Italy plays in anchoring peace in the Middle East region, as well as with regard to Christian-Islamic dialogue," a statement by Kataeb information bureau read.

Gemayel and Napolitano also reviewed the essential role of the Italian battalion working within UNIFIL in South Lebanon.

On emerging, Gemayel highlighted the importance of launching a dialogue workshop between the east and the west, serving peace talks in the Arab world.

"This should boost the foundations of democracy and simultaneously preserve the national identity of the Arab Spring," Gemyal said, hoping that the European Union would adopt constructive dialogue on the future of Arab uprisings, saving its spring "so as not to become a permanent storm, ever blowing in the region."
R.H.

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Politics - Franjieh, Zasypkin take up Mideast juncture
 

Thu 1/03/2012 15:08

NNA - 1/3/2012 - Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexandre Zasypkin, had been Thursday to Bnachii for a meeting with Marada leader, MP Sleiman Franjieh, over the current situation in the Mideast region.

The diplomat highlighted the necessity that peoples be given the chance to make their decisions without any foreign interference.

He said that international constructive cooperation was highly required so as to find political solutions to the unrest sweeping the neighboring countries.

"We hold onto protecting human rights and this requires primarily stopping the killing and looting, and we do not accept politicization bids aimed to wield pressure on states and regimes," he said.

He continued that violence must end in Syria from both parties, and that dialogue must begin between the authorities and the opposition in an effort to restore stability and security.

He concluded that in Lebanon, Russia upholds the country's unity, sovereignty, and stability.

 

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Politics - Mikati discusses Dar Fatwa affairs with former PMs
 

Thu 1/03/2012 15:07

NNA - 01/03/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati received on Thursday at the Grand Serail former Premiers Salim Hoss, Omar Karami and Fouad Siniora.

Talks with the host focused on domestic affairs relevant to Dar Fatwa and the Supreme Islamic Council.

Mikati said all the premiers agreed on setting reforms for Dar Fatwa.

"It is recommended that Dar Fatwa be linked to institutional work, not to person," said Mikati.
A.M>

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Politics - Jreissati, Wakim discuss NSSF affairs
 

Thu 1/03/2012 15:06

NNA - 01/03/2012 - The National Social Security Fund and issues concering Lebanese employees and employers centerd talks on Thursday between Labor Minister Salim Jreissati and a visiting Maronite League delegation headed by Secretary General Antione Wakim.

"We hope that the Minister's profound knowledge and history will manage to bring about positive change at the Social Security Fund and old age pension levels," Wakim said on emerging.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Habib: Monday's parliamentary session decisive to spending issue
 

Thu 1/03/2012 14:49

NNA - 01/03/2012 - Deputy Khodr Habib assured that the upcoming parliamentary session on Monday would be a decisive step towards settling the government's extra-budgetary spending issue.

The Future Bloc member's stance came Thursday via an interview on ANB TV.

"The parliament's bureau and committee chairpersons put the spending file in charge of Speaker Nabih Berri," said Habib.

Habib clarified that Berri had a plan that would stand as a technical and political exit to the spending issue, which was technical more than political.
 

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Politics - Osseiran hails Berri's visit to Cyprus
 

Thu 1/03/2012 12:43

NNA - 1/3/2012 - MP Ali Osseiran Thursday said House Speaker's visit to Cyprus bears positive results on Lebanese economy.

The MP extolled Berri's management to the water and oil dossiers as well as his ongoing efforts to allow Lebanon obtaining its rights to maritime and naval resources.

L.W.

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Politics - Berri hails Lebanese-Cypriot cooperation
 

Thu 1/03/2012 12:34

NNA - 1/3/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri denied any Lebanese-Cypriot dispute over oil related matters.

Berri avowed cordial and unprecedented ties between the two countries, stressing their mutual interests in the demarcation of the economic zones associated to oil and gas-related natural resources.

On his first-day visit to Cyprus and during an honorary diner banquet held in his honor by bis Cypriot counterpart Yiannakis Omirou, Berri called on Cyprus to support Lebanon's endeavor to get the UN interfere in demarcation of Lebanese maritime borders.

At greater length, Berri counseled awareness of Israeli possibility to make use of Cypriot fears, under the cover of cooperation to conduct rescue and search operations, in order to increase its powers in the Mediterranean, spread maritime and aerial powers, and increase violations to regional Lebanese waters.

Commenting on the Arab-Cypriot ties, Berri addressed his counterpart and was reminiscent of Cyprus' 64-year old support to the Palestinians patriotic rights above all, the right to return.
"We do hope Cyprus carries out pledges to this stance," he noted.

Lebanese House Speaker didn't hesitate to tackle bilateral ties' reinforcement lauding herein Cypriot people of Lebanese origins that have preserved their culture and legacy.
He has also extolled all Cypriot graduates of Lebanese universities.

"Lebanon and its people shall not forget your support in face of occupation as we shall forever reminisce your humanitarian support in face of 2006 Israeli war," Berri concluded.

As for his part, Cypriot House Speaker commended the countries' friendly ties and vowed strengthening them on all levels.


L.W.

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Politics - Mikati meets Siniora, Hoss, Karami
 

Thu 1/03/2012 12:14

NNA - 1/3/2012 Lebanese Premier is currently meeting with former Premiers Salim Hoss, Omar Karami, an Fouad Siniora.


 

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Politics - Jarrah: Our proposal shall legalize spending
 

Thu 1/03/2012 10:44

NNA - 1/3/2012 - MP Jamal Jarrah Thursday said the urgent law proposal he intends to submit along with MP Ghazi Youssef aims at legalizing spending outside 2006 till 2011 budget.

Future bloc member said that spending was being subject to the Audit Bureau approval during Rafic Hariri and Fouad Siniora's mandate when, during Premier Mikati's mandate, spending is made through an advance the Bureau hasn't approved of.

The MP told Voice of Lebanon- Freedom and Dignity- radio that "the majority team, the FPM, attempts to approach the matter with a vindictive manner."


L.W.

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Politics - Alain Aoun: Public spending should be according to norms
 

Thu 1/03/2012 10:18


NNA - 1/3/2012 - Member of Parliament Alain Aoun told Voice of Lebanon that all public spending should follow the norms and regular procedures, adding that the $11 billion which was spent by former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government should be carefully audited.

He added that initial reports showed that the auditors discovered lot of loopholes in the spending of the former governments.

The MP reiterated his rejection to link the LL8.9 trillion with the $11 billion because the two issues cannot even be compared.

"We want to find out how and where the $11 billion was spent," Aoun argued.

He stressed that any proposal to find a solution to the $11 billion should be handled by the Budget and Finance Parliamentary Committee alone.

Aoun also differed with Speaker of the House Nabih Berri on ways to handle the controversy over public spending.

O.H

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Politics - Cabinet convenes, Mikati commends Lebanon's football team
 

Wed 29/02/2012 23:41


NNA - 29/02/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati lauded on Wednesday the momentous role Lebanon's football team managed to play in uniting the Lebanese, inside or outside Lebanon, regardless of their affiliations.

Mikati's stance came before cabinet members who convened in session at the Grand Serail, with Ministers Fayez Ghosn, Ali Kanso, Adnan Mansour, Nicholas Nahhas, Nicholas Sehnawi, Marwan Charbel, Marwan Kheir, and Faysal Karami abstaining.

"The Prime Minister extolled efforts by Lebanon's football team during today's qualifying match in Abu Dahbi, despite its loss playing against the United Arab Emirates," Information Minister Walid Daouk said on emerging.

Lebanon advanced Wednesday to the fourth and final round of World Cup Qualifier, for the first time in its history, despite losing 4-2 in Abu Dhabi.

"The Prime Minister expressed hope that the Lebanese will also amalgamate over other issues, whether at the political or livelihood levels," Daouk added.

Responding to a question, Minister Daouk said there was no discrepancy in financial figures allocated to the collapsed Fassouh building residents.

"But we took into consideration a number of factors including the necessity of owning legal rent papers (...) and the legal status of some tenants who had illegally entered Lebanon," Daouk explained.

The Information Minister also denied allegations saying that a row had been witnessed over treasury talks in the course of today's session .

"There were no fights, just an exchange of opinions," asserted Daouk.

On the other hand, the cabinet accepted a grant from China as a contribution in financing economic and arts cooperation projects.

It also approved Lebanon's hosting of the Arab Union for Developing Industrial Exports.

Among the cabinet's other decisions for today had also been the approval of 500 million LP treasury advance, for the interest of the Higher Relief Committee, to be granted as compensations to Fassouh building residents.

It is to note that Prime Minister Najib Mikati has set March 7, 2012, a date for the next cabinet session, to take place at the Grand Serail.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Dar Al-Fatwa denies sectarian links to assault against Mufti's son
 

Wed 29/02/2012 22:45

NNA - 29/02/2012 - Dar Al-Fatwa information bureau issued a statement on Wednesday dismissing religious motives behind the attack against the son of Mufti of the Republic, Mohammad Rashid Kabbani.

Mufti Kabbani's son fell to an ambush and was subject to an assault while sitting in a cafe in Ramlet el-Bayda - Beirut.

Sheikh Ragheb Kabbani filed a complaint against assailants and security forces launched an immediate investigation to arrest the perpetrators and unveil the reason behind this aggression, the statement read.

"We fear that this attack is a message sent to the Mufti through his son, in order to distort his image before the public, as some have tried to do so before," the statement added.

Within this framework, the Future Movement denied in a statement any involvement in this case, saying that those whose names were mentioned by some media outlets were not members of Future Movement.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman, First Lady arrive in Prague
 

Wed 29/02/2012 21:41

NNA - 20/02/2012 - President of the Republic Michel Sleiman, accompanied by First Lady Wafaa Sleiman, arrived in the Czech Capital, Prague, after winding up a visit to Romania.

Following an official reception, the President chaired at his temporary place of residence, the Hilton Hotel, a meeting in which he placed with his accompanying official delegation, the final touches on his tour program.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi urges international community to implement UN resolutions
 

Wed 29/02/2012 20:49

NNA - 29/2/2012 Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi said that the Church shall not solicit the assistance of the international community to protect Christians only in Lebanon, but shall rather urge it to work towards the implementation of UN resolutions.
"This will guarantee the protection of Christians and Muslims alike on the basis of a just and comprehensive peace," Patriarch Rahi said during his meeting Wednesday at Bkerke with a delegation of "Reuters" editors in chief.

On the other hand, Rahi met with a delegation of Bishops Committee for Family Affairs who boarded with the Patriarch preparations underway for the holding of Milano 2012 International Conference for Families, in presence of Pope Benedictus XVI.

Rahi then met with Greek Catholics Patriarch of Antioch and the East Gregorius III Lahham where they tackled church related issues amidst the current situation in the region.

On emerging, Patriarch Lahham said that they underlined the importance of church unity among all sects to reflect positively on national unity.
Lahham also indicated that fortifying the internal scene constitutes strength in the face of external danger.
-----------------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Berri meets Cypriot President, counterpart over oil talks
 

Wed 29/02/2012 20:38

NNA - 29/02/2012 - Speaker of the Nabih Berri ruled out on Wednesday any Lebanese-Cypriot bickering over oil and gas-related issues, saying Lebanon only suffered such quandaries with Israel.

Berri, on his first-day visit to Cyprus, held a joint press conference along with his Cypriot counterpart, Yiannakis Omirou, in which both men discussed salient points surrounding the long awaited launch of gas and oil exploration projects in Lebanese and Cypriot waters.

The House Speaker earlier held a one-hour meeting with Cypriot President, Dimitris Christofias. The meeting purportedly touched on means of boosting Lebanese-Cypriot relations, and most importantly on the highly controversial oil exploration issue.

Following thorough discussions on Lebanon's and Cyprus's exclusive economic zone, the Cypriot President affirmed having given necessary instructions to facilitate the establishment of oil-related agreements between Lebanon and
Cyprus.

During the press conference, Berri promised a final exclusive economic zone agreement law-draft, following further talks with the Cypriot Ministers of Trade, Foreign Affairs, and Industry.

"It is well known that the United Nations has finally reached a conviction that it has to interfere to resolve this issue," he said as speaking of Lebanon's apprehension handling the matter with Israel.

"All we fear is having Israel make use of the highly fickle Turkish sensitivity with this regard, by prohibiting Lebanon its right to more than 850 KM square."

Berri said that the most important reason for his visit to Cyprus was to discuss an essential future issue of mutual world interest: water.

"One of the major problems the world will face, especially during the first quarter of this century, is water," Berri said during the press conference.

He suggested that Cyprus could make use of Lebanon's pure water, which could be dragged by sea pipes to Cyprus, to fulfill its water needs.

"We should push our governments to reach a swift agreement with this regard, and in our capacity as Parliamentarians, we are more than willing to endorse it."

In turn, the Cypriot House Speaker expressed a Lebanese-Cypriot intention to ink mutual agreements, further exploiting natural wealth.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Cabinet convenes at Serail, 113 items on agenda
 

Wed 29/02/2012 18:23

NNA - 29/2/2012 The Cabinet is currently convening at the Grand Serail to discuss 113 items on its agenda related to economic, administrative, investment, and financial dossiers.
The Cabinet meets under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, in the absence of six ministers Nicholas Nahhas, Nicholas Sehnaoui, Faisal Karami, Marwan Charbel, Marwan Kheireddine and Adnan Mansour due to travel.
Prior to Cabinet session, and in response to a question regarding the legalization of sums USD 11 billion and LL.8900 billion, Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi said that a mechanism for spending these sums ought to be legalized prior to be referred to auditing.
Safadi disclosed the presence of documents at the Finance Ministry related to spending operation, denying any bargaining between the two sums.

"Auditing should be undertaken via Court of Audit... whereas legislation should occur during a parliamentary session," Safadi said.
----------------------L.Y

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Politics - Harb for bringing extra-budgetary spending to halt
 

Wed 29/02/2012 17:17

NNA - 29/02/2012 - Deputy Boutros Harb called for legalizing the local financial situation, by putting terms to extra-budgetary spending. He thereby urged that Lebanon would return to its normal condition in the spending process by setting the regulatory budgets for the past years, from 2006 to 2011.

Harb addressed the Finance Minister to present accounts and numbers regarding the USD 11 billion, and Speaker of the House and the finance committee to end up the extra-budgetary spending issue.
A.M.

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Politics - Military cooperation tops Qahwaji-Graziano talks
 

Wed 29/02/2012 16:49

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Lebanese Army Commander, General Jean Qahwaji, on Wednesday met with Italian Land Forces Chief, Major-General Claudio Graziano, over the means to boost bilateral military cooperation between both Lebanese and Italian armies.

The meeting, held at Qahwaji's Yarze office, also broached the mission of the Italian contingent operating within the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The pair also engaged in the general security situation along southern borders and the ongoing cooperation between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the peacekeeping force in that respect.
 

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Politics - Gemayel sees Israel not ready for peace
 

Wed 29/02/2012 16:44

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Head of Kataeb Party, former President Amine Gemayel, on Wednesday stressed that Israel was not ready for peace before ending its special schemes to demarcate its final borders and address security and demographic issues.

Speaking from Rome, where he had been for talks with senior Italian officials over the current juncture in the Mideast region, Gemayel noted that Israel's unremitting refusal to move forward in the peace process would entail more pretexts to the rousing of fundamentalists in the region.

"This is what makes the Mideast problem a more intricate and multidimensional predicament," he corroborated.

Gemayel had met with Italian former foreign minister, Franco Frattini, who highlighted the determination of the international community to cease violence in unrest-swept Syria.

He also said the Italy and the European Union were concerned with Syria's future in the post-Assad's regime stage.
 

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Politics - Israeli violations top Qabalan-Plumbly talks
 

Wed 29/02/2012 16:29

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Vice Head of the Shiite Supreme Council, Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan, and UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, on Wednesday engaged in the current general situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

Qabalan maintained that Lebanon's stability could be enrooted by holding back the Israeli land, air, and maritime violations.

"Israel is the source of danger for Lebanon; therefore, concerns over Lebanon's stability stems from the Zionist entity," he corroborated, exhorting the United Nations to protect the country's security and stability from Israel's breaches.

He also saw that the Lebanese ought to cleave to national unity to curb the repercussions of neighboring unrest.

Qabalan later met with Vice Head of the Belgian Islamic Council, Isabelle Brel, over the council's activities in Belgium.

He said that the bids to deform the image of Islam were indeed a Zionist act orchestrated by intelligence departments.

"Islam is the religion of forgiveness; it spurns terrorism and violence, and Muslims should work on showing the real image of Islam through dialogue and righteous conduct," he stressed.

 

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Politics - March 14: Government components are ruled by foreigners
 

Wed 29/02/2012 16:26

NNA - 29/2/2012 - March 14 Forces general secretariat issued Wednesday a statement pointing fingers of accusation at the Lebanese government which was formed as per foreign and regional criteria that serve in no way Lebanon's interest.

The March 14 held its regular meeting to tackle general juncture, reiterating in its statement that the government led by Hezbollah and Syria is trying to appear productive and responsible, particularly after the wages knot and the resignation of outgoing Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas.

"The situation, however, is getting worse as problems are escalating and citizens are sensing the government's failure and its drowning in the darkness of Ghastly deals," the statement said, as the general secretariat confirmed that corruption files, on top of which the red diesel dossier, will no longer be allowed, neither will they [March 14 camp] accept the misleading of the public opinion.

"In this regard, the Secretariat condemned the government's attempts to tie Lebanon to foreign axes as suggested by the visit of the Iranian Defense Minister and the statements which came along. The Secretariat keen on the slogan "Lebanon First", deemed these statement as an insult to all Lebanese, calling on the Defense Minister for necessary clarifications," the statement added.

Pertaining to the history book issue which has flared up large controversy, the March 14 forces objected to the decision making mechanism, reminding that Lebanese of all factions have struggled for the country's independence and sovereignty.

"Resistance is not limited to certain factions and confessions. History belongs to all of us," conferees declared.

"March 14 forces highlight their unyielding support to the afflicted Syrian people, especially in the city of Homs, which is witnessing genocide and crimes against humanity by the forces of the Assad regime," also as per the statement which called on both Arab and international communities to raise to the level of this humanitarian, moral and political responsibility in order to put an end, once and for all, for this spiraling historical crime.

The Secretariat finally praised the stance of the Arab Group within the United Nations, which called yesterday for ending at once the siege imposed on Homs so as to provide aid for citizens.
D.K.

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Politics - Hariri praises Emir of Qatar's initiative regarding Jerusalem
 

Wed 29/02/2012 16:04

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri sent a letter to the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, in which he praised his efforts to support the Palestinian cause and defend Jerusalem in the international forums, in order to curb the ambitions of the Zionist entity in the Palestinian and Arab territories, a statement by Hariri's press office indicated on Wednesday.
"Your decision to organize a conference in Doha to defend Jerusalem is a source of pride for all Arabs and Muslims who hold in their hearts the Palestinian cause, and on top of its priorities the fate of Jerusalem," the letter read.
"Your proposal to head to the Security Council to adopt a resolution that sets up an international commission to investigate all actions taken by Israel since 1967 in Arab Jerusalem to erase its Arab and Muslim landmarks is the right decision to curb the ambitions of the Zionist entity in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories; this usurping entity that always exploits the crises that afflict our Arab world to create a situation on the ground, and bets that it shall not be erased with time," it added.
"The State of Qatar, led by your Highness, has accustomed us to stand at the forefront of defending all the just Arab and Muslim causes. I highly praise your courageous initiative and ask God Almighty to help you achieve the aspirations of the Qatari people towards greater prosperity, progress and growth," it concluded.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved








 

Politics - Sleiman winds up visit to Romania, heads to Czech Republic
 

Wed 29/02/2012 15:49

NNA - 29/2/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, on Wednesday winded up a three-day state visit to the Romanian capital, Bucharest, where he had been for talks with his Romanian counterpart, Traian Basescu.

Sleiman, scheduled to head to the Czech Republic afterwards, avowed that special relations with Romania on all levels were sought, mainly in the fields of economy and trade.

The President today attended the opening session of the Romanian businessmen forum, whereby he shone light on Lebanon's substantial capability to attract investments and weather economic crises.

"The world is witnessing an economic and financial crisis, with repercussions threatening a number of states mainly in Europe. The MENA region is also witnessing changes and events with befogged outcomes as yet. We were able to prove to the world Lebanon's capacities to weather crises and hardships, owing to the wise economic and financial policy," he said.

He indicated that the deposits growth exceeded $120 billion in 2011, boosting hence the immunity of the Lebanese banking sector.
He added that the security and political stability also helped bolster national economy and attract 4.9 billion-dollar investments.

"Such economic sustainability is prone to persist in the forthcoming stage in tandem with the political and security stability," he maintained.

Separately, the President renewed calls upon the Arab countries to protect minorities, which he deemed as a "huge wealth in the Middle East."

Sleiman made this remark following his visit to Patriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

 

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Politics - Abboud from Grand Serail: "lost" in the cabinet's performance
 

Wed 29/02/2012 15:39


NNA - 20/02/2012 - Prime Minister Najib Mikati received on Wednesday at the Grand Serail Tourism Minister Fady Abboud, who said he got lost in the way the cabinet performed.

Abboud's stance came in the wake of his visit to the Grand Serail for meeting with Mikati and complaining to him about the cabinet's failure to deal with ministries in a proper manner. "Neither the Finance Ministry nor the Interior one has the right to practice custody over the Tourism Ministry."

Abboud was blaming the cabinet for non-allocating the necessary sum for his ministry, knowing that 22% of the national income was due to Tourism Ministry whose budget was only 0.5% with respect to Lebanon's overall budget.

Separately, Mikati received UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly, who left the Serail refusing to make out any comment.

Among Grand Serail's visitors: Head of the Civil Service Board Khalid Qabbani; Deputy Head of Sidon's Municipality Ibrahim Bsat; Chief of the Italian Land Forces Claudio Graziano; and others.
 

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Politics - Strida sheds light on gaps in law to protect women from domestic violence
 

Wed 29/02/2012 15:20

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Parliament member Strida Geagea tackled Wednesday the gaps existing in the law draft on protecting women from domestic violence, in a press conference held at the parliament in presence of Deputies Shant Janjanian and Elie Keyrouz as well as the European Union's representative.

Deputy Geagea drew attention to the formula which the parliamentary committee designated to tackle violence against women had come up with.

She reminded of some legal principles governing the protecting of women from violence, particularly at the domestic level, as these principles are stipulated in the universal declaration of human rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which all call for boosting women's rights and freedoms at all levels.

She also reiterated the stances of Christian and Muslim leaderships which insist on respecting women's dignity and refusing gender discrimination, objecting to all inhuman acts against females.

Geagea announced that the Lebanese Forces bloc clings to the first law draft on protecting women from violence, objecting to the amendment of said draft, and highlighting the need "to penalize all forms of violence against women in order to achieve a better world, where justice, equality between men and women, their dignity and their rights prevail."

D.K.

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Politics - Siniora, UAE diplomat meet
 

Wed 29/02/2012 14:51

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Head of Future parliamentary bloc, MP Fouad Siniora, on Wednesday met with Emirati ambassador to Lebanon, Youssef Ossaimi, over the current general situation and most recent developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

The meeting took place at Siniora's office in Sadat Tower.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


 

Politics - Daouk tackles general affairs with Merehbi
 

Wed 29/02/2012 14:24

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Information Minister Walid Daouk received Wednesday at his office in Tele Liban building former MP Talal Al-Merehbi with talks featuring high on general affairs.

Also, Minister Daouk met with Doctors and Pharmacists syndicates' Heads, Sharaf Abou Sharaf and Ziad Nassour, accompanied by the former Head of pharmacists syndicate, Leila Khoury.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved



 

Politics - Jumblatt, Ozyildiz discuss major developments
 

Wed 29/02/2012 14:09

NNA - 29/2/2012 Head of the Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblatt Wednesday tackled major developments during his meeting with Turkey's Ambassador Inan Ozyildiz.


L.W.
 

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Politics - Berri meets Christofias
 

Wed 29/02/2012 13:51

NNA - 29/2/2012 - House Speaker Nabih started his official visit to Cyprus by meeting with the Cypriot President, Demetris Christofias, at the presidential headquarters.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hout: March 8 forces seek provoking national crisis
 

Wed 29/02/2012 13:05

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Deputy Imad Hout on Wednesday accused some of March 8 parties of seeking a fictitious crisis over the spending issue.

The MP told the Orient radio station that the other camp was not looking for a comprehensive solution which brings the government crisis to an end and pushes the country forward.

"They want to put on voting the $8.9 trillion issue, which I believe would escalate the tension on Monday's legislative session," he considered, hoping that Speaker Nabih Berri would find a way out to the current knot.

The Deputy said national interest requires dealing in the same manner with financial affairs from 2006 till 2011 so as to address the spending issue.

As for the Dar El-Fatwa's affair, Deputy Hout indicated that this institution needed administrative and financial reforms, noting that this should be done before the elections so that the council would be formed based on new laws which suit the current epoch.

"Dar El-Fatwa ought to work in favor of Muslims and Lebanese in general in view of its importance at the national level which entails distancing itself from political polarizations," Hout concluded.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Berri: Arabs need law to abolish confessionalism and sectarianism
 

Wed 29/02/2012 12:07

NNA - 29/2/2012 Speaker of the House Nabih Berri warned that the conspiracies brewing in the region are posing a real threat to the Arabs and for this reason "they (Arabs) should have a law to abolish sectarianism.

Berri made these remarks during a meeting with the new administration of the Arab Press correspondents.

He stressed that Lebanon is the cradle of dialogue, openness and civilization, pointing to the integration between Christians and Muslims.

Berri disclosed that he is earnestly endeavoring to turn Beirut into a center for dialogue for civilizations.

"We can't remain idle amid the unfolding developments in the region. We are trying to find ideas that can turn Lebanon into a real oasis for the world."

Berri expressed deep concern that the events in the region would ultimately lead to the disintegration and partition of the Middle East.

"They are asking us to move from a bad prison to a two or three star jail."

He suggested that the powers that are brokering and fomenting the uprisings in some Arab countries want to the spare Israel from the events around it.

Berri asked why the international community and the Arabs failed to come up with one political initiative to end the crisis in Syria.

O.H
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Ghanem: Opinions far apart on legalization of $11 billion
 

Wed 29/02/2012 11:29

NNA 29/2/2012 - Deputy Robert Ghanem stressed that discord over the legalization of the controversial issue of $11 billion is still wide.

The MP said if the ministerial and the parliamentary Committee were established to legalize spending from outside the budget since 2006, it would take time to reach a certain result, adding "all sides insist on leaving this issue to the wisdom of Speaker Nabih Berri to find the appropriate exit."

The MP ruled out on Wednesday to "Voice of Lebanon" -Freedom and Dignity radio " a breakthrough on this issue before the legislative session next Monday," pointing out to the possibility of voting in the session if a quorum was secured.

A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved






 

Politics - Ghanem: Opinions far apart on legalization of $11 billion
 

Wed 29/02/2012 11:29

NNA 29/2/2012 - Deputy Robert Ghanem stressed that discord over the legalization of the controversial issue of $11 billion is still wide.

The MP said if the ministerial and the parliamentary Committee were established to legalize spending from outside the budget since 2006, it would take time to reach a certain result, adding "all sides insist on leaving this issue to the wisdom of Speaker Nabih Berri to find the appropriate exit."

The MP ruled out on Wednesday to "Voice of Lebanon" -Freedom and Dignity radio " a breakthrough on this issue before the legislative session next Monday," pointing out to the possibility of voting in the session if a quorum was secured.

A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Berri bound to Cyprus
 

Wed 29/02/2012 11:16
NNA - 29/2/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri headed Wednesday to Cyprus on an official visit whereby he is scheduled to meet with the Cypriot President, House Speaker, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Industry as well as ranking Cypriot officials.

Bilateral ties and means to boost cooperation will top talks between Berri and the Cypriot side, with special focus on the fuel oil exploration issue and the maritime borders.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All right


Politics - Jeser: We will not vote on LL8.9 trillions
 

Wed 29/02/2012 11:11

NNA - 29/2/2012 - MP Samir Jeser Wednesday said his bloc (March 14) shall not vote on the LL 8.9 trillion.

"We will withdraw from Monday's Parliamentary session," Future bloc member told Voice of Lebanon radio.

Jeser also said that public spending has been done despite the fact that there was no official budget.

"Talks about documents are not serious since all these papers are at the disposal of the Finance Ministry," he said.


L.W.
 

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Politics - Farid Khazen calls for unified rule on appointments issue
 

Wed 29/02/2012 10:12

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Member of Parliament Farid Khazen told Voice of Lebanon that all sides must agree on a unified rule on the issue of administrative appointments, adding that this rule should be applied on everybody and indiscriminately.

The MP also commented on the debate over the budgets.

"The only common thing between the LL8.9 trillion and the $11 billion is that they were spent above the last official budget ceiling. Apart from that, there is nothing in common between the two issues."

The MP stressed that the LL8.9 trillion was spent through advance payments that met all the conditions contrary to the $11 billion which was spent during former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's mandate and this spending did not even comply with basic laws and rules.

Khazen refused calls to pass the LL8.9 trillion and $11 billion spending in the parliament at the same time.

O.H

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Politics - Sleiman: Syrian people alone decide their regime
 

Tue 28/02/2012 22:01

NNA - 28/02/2012 - Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said that Lebanon supported all the categories of the Syrian public, explaining that Syrian people alone would decide their state regime's fate.

Sleiman addressed the Arab countries to contribute to reach democracy in Syria without pouring oil over fire, because such a thing would harm the neighboring countries.

The President stressed that Lebanon should not turn an arena for the others, whether Syrians or non-Syrians, to fight on its own land. "It [Lebanon] should not turn a podium for any side wanting to perturb any other country, within Article 8 of the Arab League's Statute."

Countering Israel's saying that Lebanon would not be on the new world map, Sleiman said "It is Israel that won't be found in this map because the brilliant future is for open-mindedness and not for isolation or racism."

Sleiman's words came Tuesday amidst a reception ceremony, held by the Lebanese Ambassador to Romania Muhammad Dib, in Bucharest.

Dib, for his part, thanked Sleiman's visit to the country, highlighting the importance of boosting the relation between Lebanese emigrants and Lebanese residents.
A.M.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Aoun: settlement over appointments file not discussed
 

Tue 28/02/2012 20:10

NNA - 28/02/2012 - Deputy Michel Aoun said no settlements have been reached today over the administrative appointments file as discussions have not focused on said file.

Aoun's words came Tuesday in the context of the weekly regular meeting for the Bloc of Reform and Change at his residence in Rabieh.

Turning to the history book issue, Aoun said that there could not be an elimination of incidents in history.

Aoun said that the meeting today tackled road projects in Metn region.
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Future: opposing ISF is criminal act that we should not be silent on

 

Tue 28/02/2012 20:02

NNA - 28/02/2012 - The Future Bloc stressed that what the "De Facto" forces have done in Madi neighborhood was a criminal act that should not be left without questioning.

The "De Facto" forces, according to the Future, prevented the Internal Security Forces from assuming their national duty to catch hold of a wanted person.

"All that is recommended is boosting the security apparatuses' capabilities to bolster the Lebanese state's leverage."

The Bloc's fresh stance came on Tuesday in the context of its regular weekly meeting, under the chairmanship of Deputy Samir Jisr, at the Downtown house in Beirut.

The Future thanked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his initiative to extend the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to three years.

A.M.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mikati meets with Shaar at the Serail
 

Tue 28/02/2012 19:52

NNA - 28/2/2012 Prime Minister Najib Mikati met on Tuesday afternoon at the Grand Serail with Mufti of Tripoli and the North Malek Shaar, accompanied by a Christian church delegation.

Shaar said on emerging that they boarded with the Premier the issue of the holding of an international conference entitled "How do Muslims and Christians Together Make Civil and World Peace" to be taking place in Lebanon upcoming June 18, 2012, under the patronage of the President of the Republic.

Shaar said that Lebanon is distinguished amongst its Arab and Islamic surrounding with its embracing of all monotheistic religions and sects, shedding light on the crucial and efficient role by all spiritual and religious references in the holding of the international conference on inter-religions dialogue.

"We hope that Lebanon... the country of coexistence, intellect and culture... would always embrace such conferences that help in anchoring psychological stability rules and security to Islamic and Arab countries' citizens," Shaar said.
-----------------L.Y

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Politics - Serra ups calls to preserve security, respect 1701
 

Tue 28/02/2012 19:16

NNA - 28/2/2012 - UNIFIL Commander, Major General Paolo Serra, on Tuesday avowed that the peacekeeping force would spare no effort in helping all parties cleave to security and respect resolution 1701.

Speaking during a ceremony in Bint Jbeil held in honor of the French contingent, Serra highlighted the ongoing cooperation between the Lebanese Army and the UNIFIL.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Meeting in Sidon to discuss security situation after Natout killing
 

Tue 28/02/2012 18:40

NNA - 28/2/2012 - An extraordinary meeting was held on Tuesday at Dar-al-Fatwa in Sidon, at the behest of Sidon Mufti Sheikh Salim Soussan, to discuss the security situation in the city in the wake of the killing of Mohammad Natout, owner of a cell phones shop in Sidon.

The meeting decided to form a committee of a number of lawyers from the city to follow up the case, highly valuing security forces' swift efforts in rounding up the culprit. The meeting also called on Interior and Municipalities Minister to reinforce the number of security forces in the city.

Security forces arrested today in Beirut a Syrian national accused of stabbing Mohammad Natout, 66, owner of a cell phones shop in Elia square in Sidon.

MP Fouad Siniora, representatives of a number of communities, and a panel of scholars and personalities participated in the meeting.

Entries were made by a number of participants in the said meeting, unanimously condemning the crime and calling on the concerned security, military and judicial authorities to adopt all requisite security measures that ensure stability of the city and citizens' safety.

In his word, Siniora hailed the efforts exerted by the security forces to round up the criminal and underscored the importance of contacting State Prosecutor Judge Saeed Mirza in order that the judicial bodies should adopt necessary measures in that respect.

He also indicated that he had contacted Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, in an effort to increase work so as justice takes it normal course.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - British Foreign Department: Conroy arrived safe to Lebanon
 

Tue 28/02/2012 17:59


NNA - 28/2/2012 British Foreign Department affirmed Tuesday that the wounded British journalist Paul Conroy arrived safe and sound to Lebanon, and he is currently receiving consular assistance through the Embassy in Beirut, British Department Spokesman said in a statement distributed by the British Embassy in Beirut.
--------------L.Y

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Politics - Gemayel bound to Rome
 

Tue 28/02/2012 17:57

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Former President Amine Gemayel on Tuesday headed to Rome, where he is scheduled to meet with Italian senior officials.

The Kataeb Party Head is also scheduled to lecture on the current situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

He is also to partake in the launching of the Italian translation of a book on medicine through the Holy Book, written by his grandfather Amine Bashir Gemayel.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mikati, Mufti Qabbani meet over Dar-al-Fatwa unity
 

Tue 28/02/2012 17:54

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Tuesday visited Mufti of the Republic, Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, and left without giving any statement.

But Mufti Qabbani told reporters following the one-hour meeting that Mikati proposed a many-item initiative aimed to preserve the unity of Dar-al-Fatwa and Waqf institutions in an effort to maintain unity among Muslims.

"I accepted the suggestions of Premier Mikati as they wisely protect Dar-al-Fatwa's development and modernization without tampering with the competences and powers of the Mufti of the Republic," he said.

Earlier today, Mufti Qabbani had met with former Prime Minister Selim Hoss over an array of national and Islamic affairs.

He also met with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly.

Talks reportedly touched on the current general situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Daouk, Iranian TV delegation uphold protecting NNA, TL archives
 

Tue 28/02/2012 16:19

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Information Minister Walid Daouk on Tuesday tackled Lebanese-Iranian cooperation, meeting for this purpose with an Iranian delegation comprised of Vice Head of the Iranian radio and Television, Ramazan Moussavi Mokaddem, in presence of the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi.

The meeting, held at Tele Liban's building, was attended on behalf of the Lebanese side by the TV channel's chairman, Ibrahim Al-Khoury, and Minister Daouk's consultant Andre Qassas.

Conferees followed up the gathering held over a month ago during the Iranian Culture Minister's visit to Lebanon's Information Ministry.

Minister Daouk said this visit comes in the frame of pursuing the efforts initiated during the visit of the Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, to Lebanon in a bid to boot cooperation between both countries' Information Ministries, through the cooperation agreement signed previously.

The Minister informed the Iranian delegation of Tele Liban television's requirements concerning the archive files, as "more than 50 thousand hours need archiving."

The delegation uttered total readiness to cooperate at this level so as to preserve the national television's archive, hence the country's heritage.

The Minister had insisted on receiving the Iranian delegation at Tele Liban headquarters, with regard to the efforts exerted for developing this TV channel.

"The Iranian delegation had expressed its will to archive 2.2 million negative images belonging to the National News Agency (NNA)," Minister Daouk announced, hoping that this step be achieved as soon as possible considering the regressing situation of the Tele Liban and NNA archive materials which might be ruined at any time.

He accordingly said efforts were being exerted to turn this archive into a digital technology.

Mokaddem, for his part, said the meeting was an opportunity to go over cultural and information affairs, highlighting the various common points between Lebanon and Iran in history and tradition.

"Bilateral ties and fraternal cooperation can be enhanced based on these common grounds, to build for a better future in different sectors," he declared.

He noted that Iran had been able to achieve development in the fields of media, intellectualism and productivity as well as in terms of directing, producing and writing feature movies and documentaries.

"This experience could be put at the disposal of Lebanon at any time," he promised.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Karameh, Connelly discuss bilateral cooperation
 

Tue 28/02/2012 16:14

NNA - 28/02/2012 - Youth and Sports Minister Faysal Karameh discussed with US Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly bilateral relations.

The diplomat visited the Minister Tuesday at his office in Badaro.

"Connelly, for her part, reiterated US commitment to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon," a statement by US Embassy said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Rahi tackles developments with Wehbe, Bkirki itinerants
 

Tue 28/02/2012 15:49

NNA - 28/02/2012 - Maronite Patriarch tackled on Tuesday most recent local and regional developments with MP Amine Wehbe who visited his Bkirki residence on Tuesday.

Wehbe commended the Patriarch's "national stances which always call for wisdom and tranquility."

He also saw that Lebanon's political discrepancy should be thrashed out via dialogue and mutual acceptance, as well as by boosting the state's authority as a final reference to all the Lebanese alike.

Rahi also held talks with Ivory Coast Community Imam, Sheikh Abdul Menhem Koubeissi.

Koubeissi confirmed support to the Patriarch's national stances, and solicited his full support to all the Lebanese living abroad.

Among the Patriarch's visitors had also been a delegation from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Judge Rashid Mezher, and Cypriot Parish head, Archbishop Yusuf Yusuf.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Jreissati visits Lahoud, says people's affairs priority
 

Tue 28/02/2012 15:36

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Newly appointed Minister of Labor, Salim Jreissati, on Tuesday visited former President Emile Lahoud, to whom he avowed that the state had entered now the stage of heeding people's affairs.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting in Yarze, Jreissati underlined that social security was not less important than the economic and financial one.

Besides, the newly appointed minister stressed that addressing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issue required an official and responsible approach.

As snubbing any politicization of STL, a UN-backed court probing the 2005 assassination of statesman Rafik Hariri and totally rejected by Hezbollah and its allies over unconstitutionality and fishy performance, Jreissati said this affair must be duly followed up under the ceiling of maintaining Lebanon's stability.

Lahoud later met with former Minister Wiam Wahhab, who said he was upbeat on Jreissati's appointment as the new labor minister in office.

Turning to Syria, Wahhab, also Head of the Arab Tawhid Party and a main Druze figure, said that the situation in the unrest-swept nation was "very good," and that the bets of some Lebanese on Syria's fall was doomed to failure.

On MP Walid Jumblatt's recent positions, he said: "the interest of the Druze is above any other consideration. [Druze] Sheikhs have said their word and I do not accept that Jumblatt surpasses the Druze unanimity."

Former Deputy Faysal Daoud, who also met with Lahoud today, said that "Walid Jumblatt is placing a losing bet that does not affect the Druze in Syria."

Earlier today, Lahoud had congratulated the Syrian people for the referendum on a new constitution, which won the approval of 89.4% of Syrian participants in the vote.
 

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Politics - Lebanese, Romanian Presidents convene, sign cooperation memo
 

Tue 28/02/2012 15:12

NNA - 28/2/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, on Tuesday pursued his visit to Romania, holding a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart, Traian Basesco.

The President announced that a cooperation memorandum was signed between both countries' Foreign Ministries, saying mutual agreements were underway to boost cooperation at the level of science, culture, media, youth and sports.

Special concern was also devoted to the sectors of economy, technology, and investments particularly at the energy, agriculture and banking levels.

The President and his counterpart skimmed through best means for reactivating relations and enhancing heartfelt ties.

On a different note, the pair discussed developments at the regional and international levels in light of the Arab unrest and the resulting historical changes.

They also went over challenges looming on the horizon, basically due to the world economic crisis.

Sleiman thanked Basesco for his country's unyielding support to Lebanon's sovereignty and independence, soliciting Romania to take part in the UNIFIL force operating in South Lebanon as well as to oblige Israel to put resolution 1701 into practice.

Sleiman did not fail to highlight the importance of "diplomatic criticism" so as to avoid flaring up conflicts as well as the necessity of solving conflicts in a manner which restores peace and brings the Arab-Israeli conflict to an end.

The President noted that his meeting with his Romanian counterpart was an occasion to tackle necessary endeavors for turning the page on dictator regimes and clinging to democracy, particularly in view of the experience Romania had earned at this level.

"It is of major importance to traverse this stage into a rule which expresses peoples' opinion and respects their dignity," he said, uttering on this occasion Lebanon's refusal to all sorts of Palestinian refugees' settlement on its territories.

Both sides underscored the importance of clinging to diplomacy in order to preserve the power rotation concept.

When asked about Lebanon's participation in Bagdad's Arab summit and whether Lebanon would dissociate or not from its decisions, President Sleiman answered affirmatively, assuring that Lebanon will take the appropriate decisions in witness of the circumstances, for its own benefits, for the interest of Syria and with regard to the inter-Arab solidarity.

"We had called on Syrian authorities to cooperate with the first Arab initiative in order to safeguard democracy and fulfill the ambitions of the Syrian people," the Lebanese President declared.

In this same press conference, the Romanian President Traian Basesco spoke mainly about the major role played by Lebanese businessmen in Romania, as they invest in more than 2 billion Euros.

"Lebanon ranks first amongst foreign investors in Romania," Basesco affirmed.

Pertaining to the situation in the Middle East, the Romanian President thanked Lebanon for the support offered to the Romanians escaping from Syria, especially Homs. He confirmed as well that his country was totally ready to back up Lebanon's stability as it inflicts steadiness upon the whole region.

"I assured him that Romania is all set to improve the Lebanese Army's combat capabilities and to increase the number of scholarships for Lebanese students, according to the priorities of education adopted by the Lebanese current government," he added.

As for the Syrian dreadful situation, he finally confirmed that Romania sided with the European Union's decisions, noting that "regardless of the President's prerogatives, whenever he attempts to fire at his own people, he then immediately loses power."
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Fayyad skims through developments with "Reform and Unity" movement
 

Tue 28/02/2012 14:57

NNA - 28/02/2012 - Local and regional developments featured high Tuesday on talks between Member of Parliament Ali Fayyad and a visiting delegation representing the "Reform and Unity" Movement, headed by Sheikh Maher Al Razak.

Both sides saw eye to eye over the necessity of setting Islamic and national unity as a priority, especially in countering strife-driven schemes infesting the region.

The pair also engaged in the deteriorating living conditions of Akkar region and the urgent need for exceptional efforts to salvage the situation.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Gemayel tackles upcoming "Peace in the world" conference
 

Tue 28/02/2012 14:25

NNA - 28/2/2012 Kataeb Party Leader, Amine Gemayel, held talks Tuesday on the International Christian-Islamic conference during his meeting with a joint delegation comprising of Tripoli and North Mufti, a group of the U.S.A. Episcopal Church, the Appostolic Chair attach� of the UN Monseigneur Robert Vitello.

This conference, entitled "How do Christians and Muslims make peace in their societies, states, and in the world," is organized by the Episcopal Church in U.S.A. and co-organized by the Azhar Sheikhs.
It is scheduled to be held in Beirut on June 18.

Gemayel heaped praise on the conference as on its organizers and supervisors, stressing the aim of the majority to make Lebanon a ground for civilizations' dialogue.

"What you're doing is a major step towards anchoring the cooperation culture based on forgiveness," he remarked.


L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Mikati holds Islamic Unity talks, tackles general developments
 

Tue 28/02/2012 14:21

NNA - 28/2/2012 Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Tuesday engaged in inter-Islamic unity talks during a meeting with a delegation of the Higher Sharia Islamic Council.

The Lebanese Premier convened later with the Malaysian Ambassador to Lebanon with talks featuring high on bilateral ties.

A delegation of the Beirut Merchants Association visited the Grand Serail today and briefed Mikati on the commercial situation in general.

Mikati also met with a delegation of the YASA association headed by Ziad Akel.
The latter invited Mikati to sponsor a broad conference in Lebanon on general safety.

Among the Grand Serail visitors today were also Mufti of Mount Lebanon Sheikh Mohammad Ali Jouzo, Zgharta municipality head Toufic Mouawad, and former Minister Youssef Saadeh.

Mikati winded up today's meetings with talks on overall developments.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sami Gemayel sounds educational mutiny alarm
 

Tue 28/02/2012 14:08

NNA - 28/02/2012 - MP Sami Gemayel on Tuesday promised Prime Minister Najib Mikati that any new history book which marginalizes and scraps a segment of the Lebanese society would not be taught in schools with a similar political affiliation.

One of the Ministerial Committee's members tasked to draft a new history book, Culture Minister Gaby Layyoun, earlier said that the Cedar Revolution was a phrase fabricated by the U.S. and its Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.

This irked Gemayel who derided in a press conference today the Minister's stance, deeming it an attempt to "trash" the dauntless endeavors of more than 1.5 million Lebanese people.

"The Lebanese people heroically lead the Syrian army out of Lebanon on April 26, 2005. Don't the Lebanese enjoy the least right to publish this glorious accomplishment in Lebanon's history book?" Gemayel argued.

On April 26, 2005, the last soldier of an approximately 30,000-robust Syrian force withdrew from Lebanese territories, only days after at least 1.5 million people from across the country rallied in Beirut, demanding the complete withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon.

The demonstrations, initially called the Independence Intifada, and later the Beirut Spring, were referred to by a U.S. State Department official as the "Cedar Revolution," a name which quickly labled March 14 around the world.

But a ministerial committee recently decided to scrap the phrase "Cedar Revolution" from a national middle school history curriculum currently being developed, and decided instead to refer to the event as a "wave of demonstrations." This drew storms of anger from the country's politicians who took part in the rallies against the Syrian army's presence in Lebanon.

"Objectivity in writing the history book, the respect of the Lebanese people's history, ought never to be trespassed by anyone," Gemayel said.

"Mutual recognition of one another is where we start building our future. It is high time we build our coexistence on the basis of mutual respect."

Gemayel also expressed the paramount importance of the history book, hoping it would be written in a fair and objective manner, including all Lebanese accomplishments, with no exception.

"Let us look forward to the Future, without being haunted with our past."
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Berri calls for legislative session on February 5
 

Tue 28/02/2012 12:49

NNA - 28/2/2012 - House Speaker Nabih Berri Tuesday called for holding a legislative session on Monday February 5 at 10:30 am to pursue discussions over the remaining projects and draft laws on the Parliament's agenda.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Hariri thanks Ban for STL mandate extension
 

Tue 28/02/2012 12:42

NNA - 28/02/2012 - Former Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, expressed great appreciation on Tuesday to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon upon the UN's decision to extend the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination crime of late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and the appointment of a new general prosecutor.

In a phone call to Ban on Tuesday, Hariri also seized the occasion to thank Ban for his continued support to the STL.

The pair also engaged in most recent developments in the unrest-swept Syrian nation. Hariri lauded the appointment of Kofi Anan as a United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy for Syria. He also called for non-stop efforts in a bid to mitigate the sufferings of the Syrian people.

At another level, Hariri cabled the newly appointed Yemeni President, Abed Raboh Mansour, congratulating him with his new post.
R.H.

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Politics - Abboud: To handle appointments based on norms
 

Tue 28/02/2012 11:50

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud Tuesday asserted the need to go back to customs when handling administrative appointments.

The Minister criticized some parties' attempts to hamper Change and Reform bloc ties with the Lebanese President.
"Informing Sleiman about the political mechanism of appointments shouldn't be confined to the Christian sect but should also apply to other sects," he remarked.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon radio Abboud said this year's tourism season was one of the best seasons ever.


L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved






 

Politics - Wehbe: Opposition backs suggestion leading to unity
 

Tue 28/02/2012 11:41

NNA - 28/2/2012 - MP Amine Wehbe Tuesday said the opposition supports any proposal that might lead to an understanding in the parliament over the spending dossier from 2006 till 2011.

Future bloc member said that consecutive governments resorted to spending money outside Budget as a result of wars, natural disasters, and funding major causes such as electricity.

Speaking to Al-Fajer radio, Wehbe reiterated the opposition's refusal of government's positions.

L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved




 

Politics - Habib: Hezbollah seeks to keep cabinet on its situation
 

Tue 28/02/2012 11:32

NNA - 28/2/2012 -Deputy Khoder Habib stressed that Hezbollah has interest to keep the cabinet in this current situation in order to hold power.

He pointed out that the only common thing between this diverse Cabinet is the exclusion of former Prime Saad Hariri from his post, adding that "President Michel Sleiman's goal is to remain in his post as a consensual, while Deputy Michel Aoun tries to benefit electorally and financially from the presence of this Cabinet".

On the other hand, the MP told "Voice of Lebanon" radio on Tuesday that March 14 did not absolve former Prime Ministers Fouad Siniora and Saad Hariri's cabinets' era, but demanded control and auditing of all the previous period.

The MP welcomed MP Ibrahim Kanaan's announcement, that he would ask the Minister of Finance of all the documents in the possession of the ministry, which explain the details of the spending of the $11 billion to be reviewed later in the Finance and Budget Committee and the Office of Accounting.
A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved








 

Politics - Government is Iranian, Syrian regional need: Zahra
 

Tue 28/02/2012 11:23

NNA - 28/2/2012 MP Antoine Zahra Tuesday said the sustainability of the government is an Iranian-Syrian need on the regional level as it is a Hezbollah need on the local one.

Lebanese Forces bloc member said that voting on the LL8.9 trillion without any prior consent is a call for further division and tension inside Parliament.

"If March 8 is keen to preserve the country's unity then it should find a solution and not polarize stances," Zahra told Al-Sharek radio.

On the topic of the Syrian referendum, Zahra said no credibility existed but there was a slight separation in the theatrical attempt to hold on to the authority even if it was on the account of what the operation could bear of victims.

L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved







 

Politics - Moussa: efforts underway to address spending issue
 

Tue 28/02/2012 11:19

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Deputy Michel Moussa on Tuesday said forming the parliamentary-governmental committee to solve the spending issue depends on the political factions' participation, confirming that House Speaker Nabih Berri will work hard, before the legislative session to be held on March 5, in order to solve this matter.

He told the Voice of Lebanon - Voice of Dignity and Freedom that "efforts are ongoing to address the problem of spending from outside the budget."

As for the audit and expenditures control plan, Moussa said it was a totally different matter.

"If no mechanism were found prior to the legislative session, the LL 8.9 trillion project will remain brought up before the Parliament, waiting for other projects to be raised," the Deputy concluded.
D.K.













 

Politics - Government is Iranian, Syrian regional need: Zahra
 

Tue 28/02/2012 11:17

NNA - 27/2/2012 MP Antoine Zahra Tuesday said the sustainability of the government is an Iranian-Syrian need on the regional level as it is a Hezbollah need on the local one.

Lebanese Forces bloc member said that voting on the LL8.9 trillion without any prior consent is a call for further division and tension inside Parliament.

"If March 8 is keen to preserve the country's unity then it should find a solution and not polarize stances," Zahra told Al-Sharek radio.

On the topic of the Syrian referendum, Zahra said no credibility existed but there was a slight separation in the theatrical attempt to hold on to the authority even if it was on the account of what the operation could bear of victims.

L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Merehbi: We will extract rights of Akkar if government fails to do so
 

Tue 28/02/2012 11:06

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Future Parliamentary bloc member MP Mouen Merehbi warned that the citizens of Akkar will extract their rights in case the government failed to implement development projects in this region.

Speaking to Voice of Lebanon, the MP asked how anyone can approve spending $6 billion by this government in one year and "we are not allowed to approve spending of $11 billion by former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora government over the past few years."

He stressed that the expenditures which took place from 2006 was normal, genuine and candid.

The MP proposed a comprehensive basket for the two budgets, warning that if this solution did not materialize then "we will have to live with MP Michel Aoun's fictitious battles."

Merehbi also highlighted the gross negligence in Akkar.

"The government allocated $2.1 billion for development projects for all Lebanese regions. But not a single penny was earmarked for Akkar," the MP said, adding that he will not hesitate to resign from the parliament if the situation in Akkar does not improve.

O.H

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Weapon is burden to its bearers
 

Tue 28/02/2012 09:50

NNA - 28/2/2012 - MP Khaled Zahraman stressed that weapon has become a burden to its bearers due to the situation in the region.

The MP added that the other team dragged them to take up arms, but they have not been dragged since March 14 belongs to institutions which construct and not destroy.

"We know that weapon paves the way to war and war destroy the nation and previous lessons taught us how to preserve our homeland," the MP stressed at the reception held by the coordinator of the "Future Movement" in Australia, in presence of dignitaries.
The MP assured the attendees that the situation would improve after the collapse of the Assad regime.


On the other hand, the MP stressed the necessity for the expatriates to restore their nationality and vote, urging them to "register in embassies and consulates to exercise your role in the coming elections".

Zahraman hoped that a mechanism to be set soon to implement the decision regarding the ballot before the election date.


A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Majdalani: We insist on solution for $11 billion
 

Tue 28/02/2012 09:45

NNA - 28/2/2012 Future Parliamentary bloc member MP Atef Majdalani said on Tuesday that the opposition will not accept any preamble from Speaker of the House Nabih Berri which does not include a solution to the issue of the $11 billion that was spent during the era of former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

He added that this government has exceeded the official budget spending by LL8.9 trillion.

Speaking to "Radio Free Lebanon", the MP warned that if some groups want to adopt a double standard policy then this would widen the gap in the Lebanese society.

"It has become very clear that this cabinet is nothing more than a government made by Hezbollah and Syria and the behavior of Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour is the best proof of this," Majdanali said.

He added that this "proxy government" is serving the interest of the Syrian regime and has sided with Damascus against the Arab League and United Nation.

The MP slammed the referendum on the Syrian constitution which took place on Sunday, adding that this poll will not give the Syrian regime the credibility it seeks amid endless bombing and destruction.

O.H

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Roknabadi voices support to Syria against 'conspiracies'
 

Mon 27/02/2012 23:31

NNA - 12/27/2012 - Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, reiterated on Monday his country's support to Syria against conspiracies threatening its civil peace, stressing the importance of national dialogue and the need to support acts of domestic reform.

Roknabadi also strongly condemned plans aiming at the Judaization of Jerusalem and attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque, calling on Arab leaders to support the Palestinian cause on a global scale.

The Iranian Ambassador's words came in a visit to the Center of Popular Committees and Leagues.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Politics - Sleiman promotes democracy from Bucharest
 

Mon 27/02/2012 23:20

NNA - 27/02/2012 - President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman, said on Monday that the Arab world currently witnessed exceptional circumstances driven by the tide of change sweeping the region towards democracy.

Sleiman, currently on a visit to the Romanian Capital, Bucharest, expressed Lebanon's unyielding support for democracy.

"Lebanon not only supports freedom, but rather more supports freedom of expression," the President told a group of Arab Ambassadors to Romania, who visited his temporary residence at Hilton Hotel, Bucharest.

"Our ruling system is special. It is built on the basis of sectarian sharing in running public political affairs," the President said, deeming this the best ruling formula for nations with a pluralistic social fabric, like that of Lebanon.

Sleiman also stressed that pluralism and secularism have become inseparable in our days. "Tomorrow's world is going to be one of pluralism (...) this entails a re-evaluation of democracy, not only in the Arab world, but also in the Western world, because their rules have to become more humanitarian," the President argued.

Touching on the ongoing Arab uprising seeking democracy, the President expressed support to any move that would eventually lead to a rule which adopts the rotation of power at all levels.

"We hope this takes place without any violence and away from foreign intervention, allowing each people to choose the rule that suits them best, as stipulated by the Arab League accord."

Depicting Israel as the farthest possible from the practices of democracy --robbing Palestine from its people, building settlements, and occupying Lebanese territories -- the President wondered where the Western world stood from such injustice.

"All forms of democracy adopt a set of similar standards," the President reminded as countering the Western World's discrepancy in its application to the concept of democracy in different parts of the world.

Greed in Arab natural wealth and fortunes are what prompts the West to submerge the region in non-stop chaos, the President said.

"This urges us to unify our stances and invest our huge capabilities in the Arab world via the establishment of a social-economic organization in favor of in vesting Arab wealth in Arab countries," the President added.

As for mounting threats concerning the future existence of Arab minorities (Christians), the President refused scenarios advertising such thoughts.

"Those minorities comprise the special humanitarian factor in our nations, thus we are tasked to protect them," the President added.

Moreover, Sleiman called on Arabs to draw lessons from Arab Spring developments by establishing a "real" Arab League which adopts a mutual language and interest.

Within this framework, the President confirmed his participation in the Arab Summit, scheduled to take place in Baghdad on March 29, 2012.

"We have to discuss our Arab situation and means of reactivating Syria's membership at the Arab League."
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


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