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Slim rejects extension as he meets al-Rahi over army chief crisis

As cabinet failed to convene to resolve a looming crisis in the army chief command, caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Slim met Friday with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to discuss the steps that must be taken to avoid vacancy after army chief General Joseph Aoun's planned retirement in January.

Slim, who is loyal to the Free Patriotic Movement, unsurprisingly said after the meeting that extending Aoun's term does not fall under his jurisdiction.

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Army chief's term will likely be extended by parliament

The choice of extending the army chief’s term is advancing amid U.S., Qatari and French pressure in this regard and support from Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, parliamentary sources said.

“The extension will be passed through a parliamentary law raising the retirement age of officers of the ranks of general and major general, because postponing the retirement of the army chief (by the government) would require the defense minister’s signature, and any bypassing of him would subject Cabinet’s decision to an appeal before the State Shoura Council,” the sources added, in remarks to a-Binaa newspaper published Friday.

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US: Restoring calm along Israel-Lebanon border of utmost importance

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said her country continues to be “concerned by the possibility of a further spillover of (the Israel-Hamas) conflict.”

“In particular, the United States does not want to see conflict in Lebanon, where escalation would have grave implications for regional peace and security, and for the well-being of the Lebanese people,” Thomas-Greenfield said at a U.N. Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East.

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In tense talks with Bassil, Le Drian says Gen. Aoun guarantee for 'Europe security'

French Special Presidential Envoy for Lebanon Jean-Yves Le Drian walked out angrily of a 10-minute meeting with Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil on Thursday after “heated” discussions, media reports said.

“The French envoy was swift in moving from the discussion of the presidential file, which is supposed to be the core of his mission, to the issue of extending the term of General (Joseph) Aoun, asking Bassil about his stance on extension and telling him that he is the only figure who opposes the matter,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday.

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Geagea: Ministers should pay south compensations from their own pockets

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Thursday criticized government’s decision to pay $10 million in compensations to southern residents affected by Israeli bombardment.

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Report: Le Drian urges pressing Hezbollah on 1701 as Israel seeks 'buffer zone'

French Special Presidential Envoy for Lebanon Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is currently visiting Lebanon, has expressed Western desire to “press Hezbollah to commit to the implementation of Resolution 1701,” a media report said.

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Govt. approves $10 million for southerners affected by Israeli shelling

The Council for South Lebanon will pay around $10 million in compensations to the south Lebanon residents affected by the Israeli bombardment that has taken place since October 8.

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Berri rejects any modification of Resolution 1701

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has stressed that Lebanon “has been and is still committed to Resolution 1701 and its implementation.”

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Israel says downed 'suspicious target' that crossed from Lebanon

The Israeli army said Thursday that its air defenses "successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target" that crossed from Lebanon into Israel.

Al-Manar had earlier reported two missiles fired by Israel's Iron Dome that exploded in the air facing the border region after alert sirens were activated in the Dovev, Sa'sa' and Mattat settlements in the Upper Galilee.

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Le Drian resumes meetings in Lebanon over presidential file

French Special Presidential Envoy for Lebanon Jean-Yves Le Drian met Thursday with Hezbollah top MP Mohammad Raad, Free Patriotic Movement leader Jebran Bassil and Kataeb leader Sami Gemayyel.

The meeting with Raad was also attended by French Ambassador to Lebanon Herve Magro and Hezbollah’s Arab and international relations officer Ammar al-Moussawi.

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