Following are summaries of some of the main stories in a selection of Lebanese newspapers Wednesday. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Paris meet turns page on past, Siniora hands Sleiman March 14 memo to expel Syrian ambassador
Bitter bickering has remained between the opposition and the majority over Syrian violations of Lebanese territory, and the government's action regarding the Syrian shelling of Lebanese border areas.
A memo by March 14 forces handed by head of the Future parliamentary bloc to President Michel Sleiman called for the expulsion of Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali, saying that he is “personally not welcome, as he plays intelligence roles.”
The Syrian ambassador and head of the Change and Reform bloc MP Michel Aoun responded swiftly to the March 14 petition. Ali said Syria "is determined to boost relations with Lebanon,” adding that calls for his expulsion by some political forces “reflect on [the sentiments of] only a few Lebanese.”
Aoun, for his part, demanded an official report on what is happening on the Lebanon-Syria border, declaring readiness – if a Syrian attack on Lebanon is determined – to take all measures to protect citizens.
Baabda considers March 14 petition unrealistic
March 14 took Lebanon on a new adventure and placed it on a confrontation with Syria through the strongly-worded petition it handed to President Michel Sleiman, in which it pointed to the "huge threats facing Lebanon at this critical stage of its history."
Opposition sources told Al-Akhbar that March 14 gave Sleiman a deadline for achieving the petition’s demands. And in the event Sleiman fails to respond, March 14 will seek the help of the Arab League followed by the United Nations.
Sources close to Sleiman, however, said the petition is unrealistic.
Sleiman to thoroughly examine March 14 memo ... France for isolating Lebanon from Syria crisis
Hariri meets Jumblatt, Fabius in Paris
Sources close to President Michel Sleiman told Al-Mustaqbal that the president will “thoroughly” examine the March 14 petition.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri discussed the latest developments in Lebanon and the region with head of the National Struggle Front MP Walid Jumblatt. Hariri also had dinner with Jumblatt at the former’s residence in Paris.
The meeting with Jumblatt, who was accompanied by his wife, Noura, came following talks between Hariri and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the French Foreign Ministry.
The meeting focused on the situation in Lebanon and the latest developments in the region as well as bilateral relations between the two countries.
After the talks, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said that "contrary to what we believe, the crisis in Syria is not a purely Syrian affair ... it has an impact on the stability of the region, especially Lebanon, which is facing an influx of refugees.” Lalliot said France wants Lebanon to maintain its disassociation policy from Syria.
Hariri-Jumblatt reconciliation torpedoes election law
58 MPs sign petition to nullify agreement with Syria
Mahfoud to An-Nahar: Mikati’s remarks unpleasant and we are considering going on strike tomorrow
As reported by An-Nahar earlier this week, a meeting took place Tuesday between former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and head of the National Struggle Front MP Walid Jumblatt in Paris.
Sources close to both Hariri and Jumblatt said the meeting and dinner at Hariri’s residence in the French capital was warm and intimate as any meeting between two old friends would be.
The sources said the significance of the meeting was the return to the warm relations between the two men as they were before they were cut following the formation of the current government and Jumblatt’s departure from March 14.
They said Hariri and Jumblatt agreed not to approve the newly proposed election law which Cabinet has referred to Parliament.
In Lebanon, the March 14 forces handed Sleiman a petition signed by 58 MPs to expel the Syrian ambassador from Lebanon.
Sources close to Sleiman refused to comment on the petition. It was also noticed that the presidential statement following the meeting between Sleiman and Siniora did not mention that the head of the Future bloc handed the president a memo.
The statement only said Sleiman and Siniora discussed the current developments.
The Cabinet will meet today to approve the salary scale for the public sector, among other items. However, a dispute seemed to have erupted yesterday about whether to adopt a salary scale drawn up by trade unions, one which has been modified in agreement with the ministerial committee in charge of following up on this issue, or a new pay scale prepared by Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi.
Teachers, who held a sit-in Tuesday, warned that they would hold a general strike Thursday.
Nehmeh Mahfoud, the president of the Teachers’ Union, told An-Nahar that he felt that the salary scale would not be approved today.
He said his meeting Tuesday with Prime Minister Najib Mikati was [discouraging].
"Mikati’s comments to me were not pleasing, as he spoke of the fears of many [officials] that the approval of a salary scale would have economic repercussions on the Lebanese,” Mahfoud told An-Nahar.