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Lebanese prime minister takes office

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Lebanese prime minister takes office

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Saad al-Hariri has formally taken up the post of Lebanese Prime Minister.  He confirmed his new cabinet on Monday.  His 14-March coalition won elections in June, but rifts between the parties had made it hard to reach a power-sharing agreement until Monday. 
 
It is hoped that billionaire businessman al-Hariri will be able to tackle Lebanon’s economic troubles.  The public debt now stands at over 33 billion euros. 
 
He, may however, have to deal with conflicts within his cabinet first – which includes two Hezbollah ministers.  The group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, spoke out after a joint American-Israeli missile defence exercise:

“I say to Ehud Barak, Netanyahu, Obama and the whole world – send whatever military brigades you like.  If you want, send the whole Israeli army.  We will destroy and crush it with our hills, valleys and mountains.”
 
Nasrallah’s speech was broadcast to tens of thousands of supporters in a southern Beirut suburb. It marks increased tension, following Israel’s seizure of a boat last week that it claims was bringing Iranian weapons to Hezbollah.