8:05 pm LBCI: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri will meet with majority leaders in upcoming hours, prior to declaring cabinet formation
7:50 pm Security forces recover sea-mine near Byblos port
7:30 pm Hajj Hussein Khalil says national unity cabinet “practically formed,” no disagreement on Ministerial Statement
6:16 pm Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt meets with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams
3:49 pm AFP confirms release of reporter in Iran
3:20 pm MP Qassem Hashim: Cabinet Policy Statement, especially in the resistance issue, will include the same words that were mentioned in the post-Doha cabinet Policy Statement.
1:25 pm MTV: Bassil met with Hariri in the PM-designate's downtown Beirut home and informed him about the decisions reached by opposition members, to convey opposition’s approval of cabinet lineup, during a meeting on Friday night. Key opposition leaders held a meeting Friday night and issued a statement saying they agree to form a national-unity government in line with the outcome of negotiations held by the PM-designate. Hariri’s government-lineup proposal reportedly gives the Change and Reform bloc the Telecommunications, Tourism and Industry portfolios, as well as a state ministry and the Energy Ministry - to be headed by Bassil. There is also word the portfolios of Foreign Affairs, Health and the Youth and Sports Ministry are going to the Development and Liberation bloc. As for the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, its ministerial share reportedly includes the portfolios of Agriculture and Administrative Development.
1:35 pm The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) said on its website Friday that the STL judges have introduced some amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The amendments aim to improve the effectiveness of the STL and the safety of persons involved in court proceedings.
1:02 pm Sources to Future News: President Michel Suleiman will not issue a decree on cabinet formation on Saturday. However, Hariri could visit Baabda palace today.
12:58 pm Medvedev: New sanctions on Iran possible if no progress. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned in comments released by the Kremlin on Saturday that new sanctions against Iran cannot be excluded if there is no movement forward in the standoff over its nuclear drive. In an interview with German newspaper Spiegel, Medvedev confirmed Russia was prepared to help with work in enriching Iranian uranium if Tehran agreed to a UN-brokered plan to break the deadlock.
"If the Iranian leadership takes a less constructive position, then in theory anything is possible," Medvedev said in the interview, a full transcript of which was released by the Kremlin.
"I do not want this [to] end with the adopting of international sanctions because sanctions, as a rule, lead in a complex and dangerous direction,” he said, "But if there is no movement forward then no one is going to exclude such a scenario."
12:56 pm Guy: Israel, Hezbollah violating Resolution 1701. At a ceremony held by the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in Tyre on Saturday, British Ambassador to Lebanon Frances Guy said that both Israel and Hezbollah are violating UN Security Council Resolution 1701, adding that the presence of arms in South Lebanon is to blame. Guy said there has been peace in South Lebanon and North Israel for three years now, which is a positive. However, she said that the recent discovery of a weapons shipment - a reference to the Francop ship seized by Israel for allegedly carrying Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah - gives motive to continued violations. Guy added that the cabinet formation is a domestic issue and thus, the sole responsibility of the Lebanese.
12:51 pm Eleven dead in Russian military plane crash. Russian officials reported on Saturday that a Russian military plane crashed into the sea during a training exercise in Russia's Far East region, leaving all eleven crew members missing and presumed dead. The Defense Ministry said that the Tupolev Tu-142 plane disappeared from radar as it was coming to the end of a training mission Friday over the Tatarski Strait that divides Russia's Far East island of Sakhalin from the mainland.
"Given the conditions under which the catastrophe took place, we can presume that all the crew aboard the Tu-142 were killed," a source in the emergencies ministry told the RIA Novosti news agency.
12:40 pm Security source to An-Nahar: No weapons on Francop ship, just food. An-Nahar newspaper on Saturday quoted an unnamed security source who said that an investigation by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) revealed the Francop ship seized Wednesday by Israel for allegedly carrying Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah, was actually carrying food headed to Syria. The source said the ship stopped at an Egyptian port before being raided by the Israeli navy on the way to Damascus.
“If there were arms on board the ship, why weren’t they confiscated in Egypt?” he asked, calling for the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry to clarify the issue. He said the ship’s crew denied that the vessel was carrying weapons, adding that the Israeli navy did not confiscate any arms, and would have detained the crew if that was actually true. The ship was released after the Israeli navy searched it. The source called for an international investigation into the incident.
12:39 pm Iran set to reject UN-brokered nuclear plan. Iran has decided to turn down proposals from the major powers for the supply of nuclear fuel, a leading member of parliament said on Saturday, in a serious setback for UN-brokered efforts to allay Western concerns about its ambitions. Under the plan thrashed out in talks with France, Russia and the US, Iran was to have shipped out most of its stocks of low-enriched uranium in return for fuel for a research reactor in Tehran. The proposals were designed to assuage fears that Iran could otherwise divert some of the stocks and enrich them further to the much higher levels of purity required to make an atomic bomb.
"We do not want to give part of our 1,200 kilos (more than 2,640 pounds) of enriched uranium in order to receive fuel of 20 percent enrichment," said Alaeddin Borujerdi, the influential head of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee.
12:06 pm Adwan: Cabinet’s Christian-majority package nearly complete
11:10 am UNIFIL starts Blue Line delineation
10:56 am British Ambassador to Lebanon Francis Mary Guy: Presence of arms south of the Litani river is a problem. The 2 sides are violating resolution 1701.
10:55 am Former Minister Karim Pakradouni to al-Jadeed: The ministries that FPM leader Aoun got helped increase the level of Christian representation in the cabinet.
10:30 am MP George Adwan to Future News: I am afraid that the cabinet policy statement would be mysterious in the sense that each party would explain the issue of arms the way it wants.
10:22 am Source close to Hariri: PM-designate might submit cabinet lineup on Saturday. Al-Akhbar newspaper on Saturday quoted an anonymous source close to Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, saying that Hariri might visit President Michel Sleiman in Baabda on Saturday to submit the final cabinet lineup, but only after Hariri receives an official, written response from the opposition regarding the people it wants to appoint to head the ministries.
“Hariri wants to conclude the cabinet formation before Sunday,” the source said.
The source added that he was pleased with the “general atmosphere” of cabinet lineup talks, despite the unclear position of both the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party.
9:00 am MP Marwan Hamadeh to VDL: I am still a member of the Democratic Gathering bloc and didn’t leave the March 14 coalition.
7:42 am Berri taking action on Monday if impasse continues, An-Nahar reports
7:57 pm The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) began interrogating the crew of the Francop vessel, which was seized Wednesday by Israel for allegedly carrying Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah and then released, after it entered Lebanese territorial waters.
The LAF issued a statement saying, "The Francop ship entered Lebanese territorial waters at noon today and upon its arrival off Beirut port, the navy, in cooperation with UN naval forces, searched the vessel.”
"Military intelligence began interrogating the crew on the motives for the seizure of the vessel while the concerned authorities... will take all the necessary measures to ensure it does not carry banned goods," the statement said.
Israel alleges that the ship is carrying "hundreds of tons" of weapons.
According to Israel, the arsenal included rockets, grenades and ammunition, which Tehran was sending to Hezbollah.
4:09 pm Bassil says his visit to Syria is not linked with cabinet formation
3:10 pm Hezbollah MP Ammar Moussawi says obstacles impeding cabinet formation have been resolved and that it is in the final stages of formation.
2:05pm Cabinet is expected to be formed by Saturday
Tags: cabinet formation, Government, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Michel Aoun, Saad Hariri