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Lebanon arrests businessman linked to Sarkozy corruption case | France



Lebanese-french businessman Ziad Takieddine is accused of being an intermediary between former Libyan and French leaders.

Lebanese authorities have arrested a Lebanese French businessman who allegedly funnelled millions of euros from former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the latter’s 2007 election campaign, a judicial source said.

Ziad Takiedinne was arrested by Lebanon’s elite Information Branch on Thursday night, based on an Interpol arrest warrant originally issued by France, the source told Al Jazeera.

French prosecutors had formally charged Sarkozy with corruption and “membership in a criminal conspiracy” in the Libyan financing case in October.

Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing.

On Thursday, France’s former Interior Minister Claude Gueant was also charged in the case.

Takieddine, 70, was being interrogated by security forces on Friday and is set to be questioned by Lebanon’s top prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat on Monday.

Should charges be brought against him, he would likely face trial in Lebanon – rather than be extradited to France – because he is a Lebanese citizen, the source said.

In 2016, the businessman had said he delivered millions of euros in cash from Gaddafi to Sarkozy – claims that he retracted just last month.

A French embassy spokesperson refused to comment on legal matters.

This is not the first time Takieddine has been implicated in corruption.

The businessman fled to Beirut in June after a French court sentenced him to five years in prison in a separate case involving millions of euros in kickbacks from arms sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed in 1994, the AFP news agency reported.

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Biden nominates Iran nuclear deal negotiator to State Department | Politics News



Wendy Sherman, Joe Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, was key US negotiator of 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

United States President-elect Joe Biden has nominated a key negotiator of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement to be the US’s next deputy secretary of state, the second-highest position at the State Department.

In a statement on Saturday, Biden unveiled a string of State Department nominees, including longstanding diplomat Wendy Sherman to be deputy secretary of state.

Sherman, a professor and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, served as under secretary of state for political affairs for four years during Barack Obama’s administration, when Biden was vice president.

“She has successfully rallied the world to strengthen democracy and confront some of the biggest national security challenges of our time, including leading the U.S. negotiating team for the Iran Deal,” the statement said.

Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, has promised to return to the accord under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 as he pursued a “maximum pressure” strategy against the Iranian government.

The Trump administration has hit Tehran with a wide array of sanctions and tensions between the two countries have increased amid a torrent of hostile rhetoric and actions in the final weeks of the Republican president’s time in office.

In mid-December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was not necessarily “excited” for Biden to take office, but that it was “very happy” to see Trump’s presidency end. “We are not very excited with Biden coming, but we are very happy with Trump going,” Rouhani said.

Meanwhile, Biden on Saturday also nominated Victoria Nuland, a retired career foreign service officer who was the top US diplomat for Europe, NATO ambassador and State Department spokeswoman, to be under secretary for political affairs.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Tuesday for Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to be secretary of state.

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