File - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri leaves the Grand Serail in Beirut, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called Friday for a quick end to the ordeal of soldiers and policemen held hostage by Islamist militants, while urging the Lebanese to rally behind the Army in the battle against terrorism that is threatening to destabilize the country.In order for Lebanon to defeat terrorism and prevent attacks on its national sovereignty, Hariri said, the Lebanese must stand united behind the Army and security forces.The Cabinet Thursday granted Prime Minister Tammam Salam full mandate to negotiate by "all available means" the release of the hostages, but stopped short of endorsing a swap deal with the militants as demanded by the captors and the hostages' families. Instead, the Cabinet reiterated its commitment to engage in indirect negotiations with the militants holding at least 21 soldiers and policemen hostage through a Qatari-sponsored mediation. Salam sought Friday to assure the families of the captured soldiers that the government was negotiating with the kidnappers to secure the release of the hostages.
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