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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July 2005, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Lebanese leaders agree on cabinet
Lebanese parliamentarians watch wife of jailed ex-warlord Samir Geagea at inaugural session
The new parliament includes many new faces
Lebanon's leaders have agreed the formation of the first government free from a controlling Syrian political influence since the civil war.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's new cabinet was announced after a meeting with pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud.

Disputes between the two have delayed the formation of a cabinet since an anti-Syrian coalition won the election.

The new line-up includes a senior member of the Shia militant movement Hezbollah for the first time.

The minister, Muhammed Fneish, has been given the energy portfolio. Shia independent Fawzi Salukh is named foreign minister.

Correspondents say there had been difficulties agreeing Christian members of the 24-minister line-up.

Last year, the United Nations Security Council issued a resolution calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah, which is viewed by the United States as a terrorist organisation.

The group itself rejects both positions, saying it is a legitimate resistance movement.

Security questions

There is no position for any supporters of the largest Christian bloc - that of hardline ex-army chief Michel Aoun, who says he will lead the main parliamentary opposition.

Mr Siniora, who was finance minister in the government of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has said he will focus on economic reforms, particularly cutting down waste in the public sector.

A major concern will also be to improve security, in the wake of a series of political assassinations and Tuesday night's sectarian clashes across the old civil war front-line, in which a Shia teenager was killed and about a dozen other people were injured.

The violence occurred after parliament passed an amnesty for former warlord Samir Geagea, whose supporters exchanged fire with supporters of the Shia Amal movement.

Mr Lahoud signed the amnesty on Tuesday, paving the way for Mr Geagea's release next week when it is published in the official gazette.

In addition, a number of suspected Muslim militants being tried for endangering state security are also to be freed.

Lebanon's prime minister on his hopes for the new cabinet

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