October 28/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 13,1-9. At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them --do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!" And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, 'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?' He said to him in reply, 'Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'"

Interview with Lebanon's MP. Nassieb Lahoud/Daily Star
Nassib Lahoud on how he would lead Lebanon/ Presidential candidate says he wants to see hizbullah's fighters integrated into the army. By Michael Bluhm -Daily Star staff. October 27, 2007

Free Opinions & Special Reports
Lebanon's Aoun Must Denounce His Agreement with Hezbollah. By: Tom Harb. October 27/07
Lebanon and the Lebanese need a lot more than just a new president.The Daily Star. October 27/07
The United States risks walking into a trap in Iran.By David Ignatius. October 27/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for October 27/07
Syrian, French foreign ministers discuss Lebanon.Monsters and
Christian Committee Refers Recommendations to Patriarch Sfeir
Gemayel Meets Hizbullah Envoy-Naharnet
Egypt's Mission in Lebanon "Accomplished"-Naharnet
Yet Another Photo of Site in Syria, Yet More Questions.New York Times
Ottawa dismisses calls for more openness at torture inquiry.Globe and Mail
Palestinian Couple Wed at Nahr al-Bared Ruins

All eyes on Bkirki talks to fill presidential slot.Daily Star
Fadlallah urges politicians to give up sectarianism
.Daily Star
Siniora unveils 'Heart Burn' campaign to combat forest fires.
Daily Star
Suleiman denies political undertones to talks in Cairo.
Daily Star
Palestinian refugees wed in Nahr al-Bared. AFP
Phalange to name candidate to replace Ghanem
Daily Star
Sayyed urges authorities to probe Al-Qaeda link to Hariri killing
.Daily Star
Can meters tame Beirut's parking jungle? AFP
UNIFIL general tells troops to keep up good work.Daily Star
Remittances account for quarter of Lebanon's GDP.
Daily Star
Lebanese insurers cry foul over draft law to revamp regulation
.Daily Star
AUB, UN launch global environment report
.Daily Star
Greenpeace to highlight dangers to marine life.
Daily Star
Ouzai speaks: What Lebanon's next president does is more important than who he is.
Daily Star
Syria 'has some explaining to do'.BBC News
Spain to extradite Syria arms dealer suspect to US.Reuters
Explosive charge blows up in US's face.Asia Times Online
'No parallels' between Iraq war, Iran threats - US.Daily Star
Oil prices crash through $92 on mounting regional tensions.AFP
China says new US sanctions hurt talks with Iran.Daily Star
American general chastises Iraqi Interior Ministry.AFP
Leading Iranian reformer takes Ahmadinejad's policies apart.AFP
US attorneys conduct traditional trip to Israel.AFP
US Democrats see new sign Bush will hit Iran.
Daily Star

Exclusive: Lebanon’s Aoun Must Denounce His Agreement with Hezbollah
Author: By Tom Harb
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: October 27, 2007
General Michel Aoun seeks the presidency in Lebanon, but his agreement with the terror organization Hezbollah is a major obstacle to peace. FSM Contributing Editor Tom Harb clarifies why in this report.
Lebanon’s Aoun Must Denounce His Agreement with Hezbollah
By Tom Harb
General Michel Aoun, the former prime minister of Lebanon who is now seeking its presidency, must first denounce his agreement with Hezbollah to be able to move back under the umbrella of the Cedars Revolution. Anything below that is just a tactical dance going no where.
Many recent claims made by the General on Lebanon’s NBN Television need to be responded to. For example, he said that no one paid the price he and Hezbollah paid for the sovereignty of Lebanon. Yet while the Lebanese people certainly value the sacrifices of the Lebanese soldiers and officers who died or were wounded in the battles against the Syrian occupation army, an agreement with Hezbollah is not a logical step in the same direction, for Hezbollah and the Syrian occupation have had – and continue to have – a joint war room.
Aoun claimed the United States was against him and that it was meddling in the way the Lebanese ought to elect their president. Perhaps General Aoun doesn't understand what drives Washington in Lebanon and worldwide: it is the war on terror. America will not support any president, elected either with two thirds or with just 51%, if he or she has an agreement with an organization on the U.S. terror list. And if the Parliament elects a president committed to the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 and the campaign against terror, he or she will be supported regardless of the constitutional process.
The general also said he has the support of the people, but that support was given based on a program that was negated by the general. So after the agreement with Hezbollah, Michel Aoun doesn't have a mandate from the voters, and any non-democratic action against a president elected by simple majority will be considered as a coup – not the other way around.

Subject: do not trust Aoun and Huzballah

Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2007 03:16:39 +0000
Dear All,
WE hope that the patriotic leaders of March 14 do not fall into the trap of trusting Mr. Michel Aoun.
After all the commitments he made with the Syrians, Mr. Aoun does not have any margin of freedom and it is not possible for him to break his alliance with Huzballah and Syria.
Huzballah and Syria tried different strategies to change the situation in Lebanon but did not succeed.
they tried the battle of Fateh al-Islam in the northern refugee camp of "Nahr el-bared" and also tried to kill patriotic leaders but nothing worked.
They are working recently on a new strategy in which Mr. Aoun will create a dispute with the Sunni in Lebanon who are represented by Majority leader Saad Hariri.
At the same time Huzballah is working secretly and is in the process of setting up a Sunni military party similar to the "Mourabitoun" established during the 1970s civil war in Lebanon.
Once Mr. Aoun escalates the dispute with the Sunnis and Mr. Hariri, these militants will be ready to kill christian people in order to initiate a fight between christians and Sunni in Lebanon.
According to the Huzballah and the Syrian plan, the Christians will all gather around Mr. Aoun in his fight with Mr Hariri and the Sunni.
As a result the march 14 alliance will break and Mr. Hariri will be weak and focused on resolving his own problems.
If all works as planned, Syria will assassinate Mr. walid Jumblat and then kill Mr. Saad Hariri the same way they killed Kamal Jumblat and then killed Bashir Jemayel in the past. Please be aware of all the evils plans.

Gemayel Meets Hizbullah Envoy
Ex-President Amin Gemayel discussed with a Hizbullah envoy ways to "settle the ongoing political crisis," a statement said Saturday. The statement, issued by Gemayel's office, said the meeting took place Friday evening at the ex-President's residence in sin el-Feel with Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah. The two-hour meeting included an assessment of the relations between Gemayel and Hizbullah, the statement said. The two "stressed on the consensus atmosphere to achieve presidential elections and the need to support the initiatives of Parliament Speaker and Nabih Berri."Gemayel said: "the only exit out of the impasse goes through the election of a new president with wide participation" by the various factions. Fadlallah was quoted as expressing support for "consensus efforts exerted by ex-President Gemayel." Beirut, 27 Oct 07, 12:17

Christian Committee Refers Recommendations to Patriarch Sfeir
A four-member committee grouping Christian representatives of the majority and opposition said Saturday that it did not review names of presidential candidates, stressing that the mission is "the leaders' responsibility."The announcement was made by Bishop Samir Mazloum who announced to reporters at Bkirki that the committee has concluded its assignment and would refer its recommendations to Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, who has the liberty of announcing them or not. We have agreed on specifications and assignment of the new president and Patriarch Sfeir would decide what to do with our recommendations, Mazloum stressed. He refused to answer repeated questions about nature of the committee's recommendations. Referring the recommendations to Patriarch Sfeir apparently settled a reported dispute among committee members on the authority to which its final report would be referred. The daily an-Nahar reported earlier that France was to serve a strongly-worded, warning-style message to Syria noting that normalization talks between Paris and Damascus can only start after the election of a new Lebanese president in line with the nation's constitution and following a halt in terror attacks against majority figures in Lebanon.
It also reported in its Saturday morning edition that the Christian committee has agreed that all MPs should attend the presidential elections session, which puts an end to the traditional dispute on quorum, be it two thirds of legislators or just simple majority.
However, committee members have not reached agreement on the authority to which its recommendations would be referred, an-Nahar reported.
It said representatives of the March 14 majority want the recommendations referred to Patriarch Sfeir, while opposition representatives want them referred to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Parliamentary Majority leader Saad Hariri who are involved in talks to agree on a consensus presidential candidate.
Referring the recommendations to Berri-Hariri, the report noted, puts them under possible veto by Berri, who represents the Hizbullah-led opposition in the talks.
Hizbullah has noted that it backs consensus among Christians on a presidential candidate conditional to nationwide consensus, leaving the door open to veto by the pro-Syrian opposition. In a dispatch from Paris, an-Nahar's correspondent quoted a ranking French diplomat as saying ambassador jean-Claude Cousseran would be dispatched by the foreign minister to Damascus to relay a message to Syrian officials.
The message, according to the report, would stress that "dialogue between Paris and Damascus is not possible before the election of a new president for Lebanon within the constitutional schedule and in line with the constitution and before a halt in terror." "Accomplishing this target peacefully opens the horizon to normalization dialogue between the two sides," the message adds. Cousseran, an-Nahar reported, could meet Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa during his Damascus visit, that is expected to take place on Saturday.
The meeting would be a "test of intentions" and its outcome would be decisive in deciding whether foreign ministers of the two states could hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of a conference on Iraq that would be hosted by Turkey at a later date. A spokesman for the French presidential office also stressed Friday that Paris and Washington have a common strategy in Lebanon, which is facilitating presidential elections along the lines of consensus on a candidate and within the framework of democratic practices. U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman on Friday dealt a blow to President Emile Lahoud's alleged hope of remaining in office after his extended term expires on Nov. 24. Washington would not deal with Lahoud after Nov. 24, the U.S. ambassador stressed in a statement. Meanwhile, MP Michel Murr told LBC Friday evening that Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun does not enjoy enough parliamentary backing to win a presidential vote. "He knows that if he goes to parliament he cannot win," Murr said of Aoun. By Nov. 11, one day before the date set by Berri for Parliament to elect a president, "we will tell him (Aoun) that vacuum (in the presidential office) is not an option," Murr added. "I say that we will not accept vacuum, we will not ruin the country if consensus was not reached on him (Aoun)," Murr added.
"I'll support any candidate accepted by Berri, Hariri and Bkirki," Murr added. Beirut, 27 Oct 07, 08:52

Egypt's Mission in Lebanon "Accomplished"
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said his call in Lebanon for expanding dialogue to include all the nation's political factions has been met by "wide understanding and (positive) response."The foreign ministry in Cario said Abul Gheit reported the outcome of his one-day Lebanon mission to President Husni Mubarak, noting that the mission has "achieved all its goals."A ministry spokesman said Abul Gheit's talks in Beirut "reflected the big interest in activating Egypt's role in Lebanon and its quest to protect Lebanon against falling into chaos or becoming an arena for settling international and regional accounts."
Egypt, according to the spokesman, is highly interested in "safeguarding the unique Lebanese example of coexistence and supporting whatever can enable the Lebanese State to deep root this example and safeguard it."Egypt's interest in Lebanon is "historic and not motivated by marginal interests or attempts to set up influence or enter into a confrontation with any side," the spokesman added. In a related development, the privately-owned Central News Agency said the chief of Egyptian intelligence, Gen. Omar Sleiman would visit Damascus to discuss with Syrian officials cooperation in facilitating the Lebanese Presidential elections. Beirut, 27 Oct 07, 11:17

Palestinian Couple Wed at Nahr al-Bared Ruins

Surrounded by ruins, a young Palestinian couple celebrated their wedding in north Lebanon's refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, devastated by more than three months of fighting between the army and terrorists. At the playing of traditional Palestinian music, Haitham, 22, and his 21-year-old bride Mayada, were married in a pavement ceremony lasting around 90 minutes on Friday. They were attended by some 300 guests who accompanied them to their apartment, where only one room survived the fighting between May 20 and September 2. The young couple will make that their home. Sweets and juice were passed around during the festivities which came three weeks after the two became engaged at another refugee camp where most of the 30,000 people who had fled Nahr al-Bared were temporarily housed.(AFP)
Beirut, 27 Oct 07, 10:37

Yet Another Photo of Site in Syria, Yet More Questions
Published: October 27, 2007
The mystery surrounding the construction of what might have been a nuclear reactor in Syria deepened yesterday, when a company released a satellite photo showing that the main building was well under way in September 2003 — four years before Israeli jets bombed it.
The long genesis is likely to raise questions about whether the Bush administration overlooked a nascent atomic threat in Syria while planning and executing a war in Iraq, which was later found to have no active nuclear program.
A senior American intelligence official said yesterday that American analysts had looked carefully at the site from its early days, but were unsure then whether it posed a nuclear threat. In the time before the Iraq war, President Bush and his senior advisers sounded many alarms about Baghdad’s reconstituting its nuclear program. But they have never publicly discussed what many analysts say appears to have been a long-running nuclear effort next door.
Yesterday independent analysts, examining the latest satellite image, suggested that work on the site might have begun around 2001, and the senior intelligence official agreed with that analysis. That early date is potentially significant in terms of North Korea’s suspected aid to Syria, suggesting that North Korea could have begun its assistance in the late 1990s.
A dispute has broken out between conservatives and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the administration’s pursuit of diplomacy with North Korea in the face of intelligence that North Korea might have helped Syria design a nuclear reactor. The new image may give ammunition to those in the administration, including Ms. Rice, who call for diplomacy. If North Korea started its Syrian aid long ago, the officials could argue that the assistance was historical, not current, and that diplomacy should move ahead. The progress of the site in late 2003 also raises new questions about a disagreement at the time between intelligence analysts and John R. Bolton, then the State Department’s top arms control official.
In the summer of 2003, Mr. Bolton’s testimony on Capitol Hill was delayed after a dispute erupted in part over whether Syria was actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. Some intelligence officials said Mr. Bolton overstated the Syrian threat.  “There was disagreement about what Syria was interested in and how much we should be monitoring it,” Mr. Bolton said in an interview yesterday. “There was activity in Syria that I felt was evidence that they were trying to develop a nuclear program.”
Mr. Bolton declined to say whether he had knowledge at the time about the site that the Israelis struck in September.
Spokesmen for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council declined to comment.
The new image of the desolate Syrian site was released yesterday by GeoEye, in Dulles, Va. Mark Brender, the company’s vice president for communications and marketing, said the picture was taken on Sept. 16, 2003. He added that the image had been collected as part of the company’s agenda of building a large archive of global images. Earlier this week, federal and private analysts identified the precise location of the Syrian site, and since then rival companies have raced to release images. The site is on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, 90 miles north of the Iraqi border.
Images taken in August, before the Israeli raid, show a tall building about 150 feet wide on each side that analysts suspect might have sheltered a half-built nuclear reactor. Also visible is a pumping station on the Euphrates, which may be significant because reactors need water for cooling.
John E. Pike, director of, a private group in Alexandria, Va., that analyzes satellite images, said the 2003 picture showed the tall building in the midst of early construction, surrounded by churned earth. He put the groundbreaking in 2001.
“It’s uncommon to see such activity in the middle of nowhere,” he said, adding that it was sufficiently unusual to have worried American intelligence officials. “I’d have put it on my suspect site list and kept watching,” he said. The senior intelligence official said that American spy satellites and analysts had, in fact, watched the site for years.“It was noticed, without knowing what it was,” the official said. “You revisit every so often, but it was not a high priority. You see things that raise the flag and you know you have to keep looking. It was a case of watching it evolve.” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nuclear proliferation at the New America Foundation in Washington, said it was surprising from the photos how little progress had been made at the site between 2003 and 2007. But Mr. Lewis said it was ironic that Syria might have been trying to build a nuclear program just as the United States was invading Iraq in the fear that Iraq was developing nuclear arms.
**William J. Broad reported from New York, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.

Syrian, French foreign ministers discuss Lebanon
Oct 27, 2007,
Damascus - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem discussed the situation in Lebanon with his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner, Syria's official SANA news agency said Saturday. The agency said Kouchner briefed al-Moallem during a telephone call Friday evening on the outcome of the recent European ministerial delegation to Lebanon. The report said that the two ides underscored the importance of 'reaching an agreement among the Lebanese to elect a consensus president according to constitutional norms, as well as the necessity to exert all-out efforts to achieve this goal in a way that could preserve the Lebanese unity.'
Last week, the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain met in Beirut with Lebanese government and opposition leaders in an attempt to reconcile their conflicting views on the elections of a new president. The attempt to choose a successor to the pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud before he steps down on November 24 has become Lebanon's most serious political crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990. Fears are high of a power vacuum that could splinter the government in Lebanon. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora's pro-Western, anti-Syrian government, which holds a slim majority in parliament, has been deadlocked for 11 months with the pro-Syrian opposition factions led by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah. © 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Lebanon and the Lebanese need a lot more than just a new president
By The Daily Star
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Negotiations to end the political impasse in Lebanon are taking place on several levels both inside the country and abroad, but the principal players seem not to recognize the urgency of the situation. There is only so much that dealings among outside powers can do: In the end, the deal that saves the Lebanese will have to be agreed - and respected - by Lebanese.
Foreign meddling has helped to put Lebanon in its unenviable position, but in many instances officials from other countries seem more concerned about the welfare of the Lebanese than do their own leaders. The latter continue to make childish speeches and quibble over inanities as time runs out on the selection of a new president, as though the only thing they can agree on is to collectively fiddle while Lebanon burns. Nonetheless, both the government and the opposition continue to claim that their positions are rooted in a desire to serve the best interests of the public. If that were true, the pace of the current contacts would be nothing short of relentless - and they would have begun long ago. No, the priority of the political elite remains what it has always been in this country: to protect itself. Beirut's "authority" is an unfunny joke at the best of times, and with the power struggle having paralyzed what few functioning arms the state ever had, those in positions in influence are fostering their own interests by arranging and/or renewing sweetheart deals for their relatives and cronies. This can only ensure that however the political crisis plays out, the cultures of corruption and impunity will remain intact - and that the unscrupulous crooks who have always benefited from them will find a way to keep riding the gravy train.
Lebanon needs desperately to be led by someone for whom the country's future is more important than his or her own. Unfortunately, the system as currently designed filters out the vast majority of such individuals. The real challenge, therefore, is not to pick a president: It is to fundamentally change the way Lebanon is governed.

Suleiman denies political undertones to talks in Cairo
Army chief reassures troops against 'foreign bases' in Lebanon

Compiled by Daily Star staff
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The head of the Lebanese Army, General Michel Suleiman, denied reports Friday that his trip to Egypt was a political one, and reiterated that it was a "technical" trip in support of the military. In a report on Friday in the local daily Ad-Diyar, Suleiman was quoted as saying that the Egyptian officials were "polite enough" not to mention the presidential issue. Suleiman visited Egypt last week, and met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other senior officials, sparking nationwide speculation that this visit might be signaling Suleiman as the next president.
Suleiman's name first became associated with the presidency when he was tapped by President Emile Lahoud as a transitional leader to oversee an interim government if Lebanese politicians do not reach an agreement by the end of Lahoud's term on November 24. "Neither I, nor the Egyptian officials brought up the presidential issue," Suleiman said. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit also denied any political goals behind Suleiman's trip during his visit to Beirut on Thursday, and told reporters that a recent meeting between the Egyptian president and the army chief was in the framework of "supporting the Lebanese Army" and not the presidency. Egypt's foreign minister was in Beirut for a one-day visit to survey the current Lebanese situation and to meet with senior politicians as part of the ongoing regional and international efforts to help the country overcome its latest political deadlock over the presidency.
A military source in An-Nahr newspaper quoted the army commander on Friday as reassuring his troops upon his return from Egypt against "any foreign bases" in Lebanon.
"There will not be any foreign military bases as such discussions are all part of military ploy," the source said, quoting Suleiman as saying during a meeting between the army commander and his officers. "The only enemies are terrorism and Israel," said Suleiman, praising the army for opening fire at intruding Israeli warplanes on Thursday. At mid-morning Thursday, Lebanese troops fired on two Israeli fighter-bombers using machine guns and light anti-aircraft weapons mounted on armored vehicles, one near Marjayoun, and the other flying low over Maroun al-Ras."The army's goal is to maintain the country's unity and peace and not get muddled in politics," said Suleiman.

All eyes on Bkirki talks to fill presidential slot
Patriarchate shoots down idea of interim figure

By Nada Saleh
Special to The Daily Star
Saturday, October 27, 2007
BEIRUT: The presidential election ranked high on the agenda of political talks on Friday, a day after the results of a visit by Egypt's foreign minister quelled hopes that Cairo could broker a deal between Lebanon's rival political camps. The Lebanese Parliament has been unable to elect a successor to President Emile Lahoud whose term - extended under Syrian pressure in 2005 - ends on November 24. A Parliament session to elect a new head of state has been postponed twice. Fears are running high in Lebanon that if a new president is not elected by constitutional deadline, the country will end with two rival governments, and violence.
Local and Arab news reports cited Arab diplomats as saying that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit discussed with Lebanese officials an Egyptian proposal to elect Lebanese Army commander General Michel Suleiman as interim president for a two-year term on the condition that he vow not to run for presidency when his term ends. The Maronite Church, which is heavily involved in trying to help the Western-backed ruling majority and the Hizbullah-led opposition reach a compromise over the presidency, has, according to these reports published on Friday, rejected the proposal, insisting on electing a president for a full six-year term.
The Church has not objected to the candidacy of Suleiman, which would require a constitutional amendment because his army position makes him ineligible, but to the two-year term. The Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, discussed the presidential crisis with several politicians and diplomats on Friday.
Among them was Geir Pedersen, personal representative of the United Nations secretary general in Lebanon. Pedersen said the election of a new president depends on the success of the patriarch's initiative to reconcile Christian leaders from both sides of the political divide.
"If the patriarch succeeds in bringing all Christian leaders to agree on a compromise candidate, then we can say that I am optimistic," Pedersen said following his talks with Sfeir in Bkirki. "Everybody should help the patriarch in his bid to reach a solution for the presidential election which represents a challenge for Lebanon."
He also voiced concerns over potential violence, saying, "everybody fears the possibility of security violations."
Security issues have been a major concern for the UN after its peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon was targeted by a roadside car bomb that killed six members of the Spanish contingent in june.
Pedersen also met with Lebanese Forces (LF) boss Samir Geagea, who said they discussed ways to ensure a democratic and peaceful presidential election. Geagea also said talks focused on the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms and UN efforts to help determine whether the area is Syrian or Lebanese.
The Christian leader also said he conveyed to Pedersen his objection to the recent UN-brokered prisoner swap between Hizbullah and Israel - during which the resistance exchanged the body of an Israeli civilian who drowned in the Mediterranean for the bodies of two fighters and a kidnapped Lebanese civilian - "because it happened without the knowledge of the Lebanese government." MP Farid Khazen of the opposition Reform and Change bloc also visited Sfeir.
"There is a certain path the election process has to take to reach the desired solution," Khazen told reporters after meeting Sfeir. "Meetings complement initiatives and the hope is to be able to elect a president by the constitutional deadline."The MP added that he hopes an election will end the nearly year-long standoff.
Khazen also said that a meeting between the head of Reform and Change, MP Michel Aoun, and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri was delayed "for security reasons only" and insisted it will be held very soon. In the past two weeks, the Church has held two separate meetings with Christian leaders from the opposition and the ruling coalition that focused on possible solutions to the presidential election crisis.
A four-member committee representing these leaders was later formed to follow up. Naji Hayek, who represents Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, said that on Friday the committee discussed the March 14 Forces' presidential candidates. British envoy to the Middle East Michael Williams also visited Sfeir, Geagea and the head of the Democratic Gathering bloc, MP Walid Jumblatt, separately and discussed with them the latest developments.
Commenting on diplomatic moves to end the crisis, the head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, said such efforts "will not bring fruit if the Lebanese themselves do not reach an agreement over pending matters."Also tackling the presidential issue, US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman warned late Thursday that his country "will not tolerate that President Emile Lahoud remains in his post after his term expires."

Fadlallah urges politicians to give up sectarianism
Daily Star staff
Saturday, October 27, 2007
BEIRUT: Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah urged Lebanese politicians on Friday to "look at the bigger picture and avoid considering personal interests rather than national ones." "Politicians can't seem to realize that Lebanon has fallen victim to the bigger regional conflict," Fadlallah said during the weekly Friday sermon at the Imam Hassanayn Mosque in Haret Hreik.
Fadlallah called on politicians to unite and let go of their "greed and sectarianism in order to preserve Lebanon against all the dangers threatening it."
"Our politicians ought to realize that Lebanon is a small country and that regional conflicts will certainly have huge impact on our fragile country if they don't show unity."
Meanwhile, the vice president of the Higher Shiite Council, Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan, lashed out at US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, accusing him of "overly interfering in Lebanon's domestic affairs."Qabalan also urged politicians to find a solution to the economic and social difficulties the Lebanese are facing.
Tackling the presidential election, Qabalan urged feuding Lebanese groups to reach a consensus over the identity of the next president. - The Daily Star

Phalange to name candidate to replace Ghanem

Saturday, October 27, 2007
BEIRUT: Former President Amin Gemayel said on Friday that the Phalange Party will name a candidate for the by-election scheduled for the Baabda-Aley region to replace slain MP Antoine Ghanem. Ghanem, a member of the Phalange Party, over which Gemayel presides, was killed along with five others in a car bombing in the Beirut neighborhood of Horsh Tabet in September. "Members of the Phalange Party will be the ones to decide on the identity of their candidate for the Baabda-Aley by-election," Gemayel said during a meeting with Phalange supporters from the Baabda region. Gemayel urged his partisans to take the "by-election seriously and participate massively" on the day of the vote.

Spain to extradite Syria arms dealer suspect to US
Fri Oct 26, 2007
Oct 26 (Reuters) - Spain's High Court on Friday agreed to a U.S. request to extradite a suspected Syrian weapons dealer accused of planning to supply arms to a Colombian rebel group. Monzer al-Kassar was arrested in Madrid in June on charges of conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). U.S. authorities accuse Kassar of agreeing to provide arms to the FARC to protect a cocaine-trafficking business and attack U.S. interests in the South American country. A long-time Spanish resident known as the "Prince of Marbella" for his outlandish lifestyle, Kassar has sold weapons to the Palestine Liberation Front, Nicaragua, Bosnia, Croatia, Iran, Iraq and Somalia since the 1970s, the U.S. Embassy in Madrid said. In 1995, Kassar was acquitted by Spain's high court of a charge of piracy in connection with the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro by Palestinian guerrillas.