President Michel Sleiman speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO) (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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President Michel Sleiman said he would back a neutral Cabinet if efforts to form an all-embracing government hit a dead end, as Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement continued to rebuff efforts by Hezbollah to convince it to give up the Energy Ministry portfolio.Aoun says he was excluded from deliberations that have led to a deal between the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance, the Future Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party on forming an all-embracing 8-8-8 Cabinet and rotating key ministerial portfolios among sects.sources, however, wondered whether Hezbollah would also withdraw its ministers from the new government if FPM members resigned in protest at the party being stripped of the Energy Ministry.U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale traveled to Saudi Arabia Sunday for talks with officials there on how to support Lebanon.A source familiar with efforts to form the government said that during his visit to Saudi Arabia, Hale would meet Saudi officials following up on the situation in Lebanon. Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri said his country supported any agreement among Lebanese parties that would preserve Lebanon by forming a government as soon as possible.
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