Hariri speaks with Jarrah, Qanso and Fneish during a Cabinet session at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Wednesday, July 5, 2017. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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Despite Prime Minister Saad Hariri's request to put aside controversial topics during Wednesday's Cabinet session in Baabda, tensions escalated when the topic of Syrian refugees' return to their homeland was raised. Minister of State for Planning Michel Pharaon and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Qanso were embroiled in a brief verbal spat after the latter reportedly said there would be no return of refugees if there was no dialogue with the Syrian government. However, ministers and MPs mainly affiliated with the Future Movement and Lebanese Forces have widely criticized the call, claiming there was no legitimate Syrian government.During Wednesday's session, Aoun lauded the efforts of the Army during last week's operation in a Syrian settlement that resulted in more than 300 arrests, and he rejected any criticism launched at the Army.Turning to other pressing issues at the Cabinet session, Aoun called for relevant ministers to submit their recommendations to Cabinet for vacant diplomatic, administrative and judicial posts.Echoing Aoun's calls for filling vacant government posts, Hariri tasked ministers with putting forward their recommendations for vacant positions in order to be studied and approved by Cabinet.
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