Speaker Nabih Berri, left, and President Michel Aoun attend the Independence Day ceremony in Beirut, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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However, Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury, a key political adviser to Prime Minister Saad Hariri, struck an upbeat note about resolving the dispute after meeting with Berri.The Maronite patriarch clearly took Aoun's side in the decree dispute, saying that the decree did not require the finance minister's signature as demanded by Berri.The decree, signed last month by Aoun, Hariri and Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf, sidestepping the finance minister's approval, has whipped up tensions between Aoun and Berri.Berri said he would not budge on his rejection of the decree as long as it sidestepped the signature of Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, a top political aide to the speaker. He also warned that the decree crisis could drag on until the parliamentary elections.Despite the decree crisis, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said that "fruitful cooperation" between Aoun, Berri and Hariri had consolidated the country's stability, accomplished a series of diplomatic and judicial appointments and led to the approval of the oil and gas exploration decrees.Prime Minister Hariri does not spare any effort in his Cabinet work to propose ideas and projects," Machnouk said during a ceremony honoring a number of Beirut mukhtars. He was referring to the political settlement that led to Aoun's election as president on Oct. 31, 2016, and brought Hariri back to the premiership.
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