The following are the top stories in the Maltese and overseas press.

The Times of Malta says a Chinese study on a possible Gozo-Malta link will come free. It also reports how the prime minister has ‘recruited’ John Dalli.

The Malta Independent reports how a Chinese company will fund a study on a possible Malta-Gozo bridge. It also reports how John Dalli has offered to help the government in decision making processes.

In-Nazzjon leads with comments by the Chief Justice that the judiciary was not consulted in the justice reform process. It also reports on the appointment John Dalli is expected to be given.

l-orizzont says an agreement has been signed for Chinese financing of a Malta-Gozo bridge study.

The overseas press

The Obama administration hopes its decision to arm Syrian rebels will prompt other nations to beef up assistance, now that the US has quoted evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people. In an assessment of the situation. The Associated Press said that the international reaction, however, ranged from flat-out disbelief of the US intelligence assessments to calls for negotiation before more weapons pour into the vicious civil war.

San José Mercury News reports UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said arming either side of the Syrian conflict would “not be helpful” as supplying arms could destabilise the region and inflame religious tensions. Ban reiterated the need for an on-the-ground investigation into allegations of reported chemical weapons use in Syria, and called again on Damascus to grant his team long-sought access.

But Nadjib Ghadban of the Syrian National Council has told al-arabiya the US and its allies need to provide more than weapons, if the conflict is to be brought to an end. The military chief of the Free Syrian Army, Selim Idriss is on his way to Washington, the Now Lebanon website said today without providing further details.

Russia expressed skepticism on Friday over intelligence provided by the United States on the alleged chemical weapons use. Ria Novosti reports Syria's foreign ministry dismissed the chemical weapons claims in the US intelligence dossier as “a pack of lies”. In a tweet on Friday, Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the Russian parliament's foreign relations committee, also accused the United States of “fabricating” evidence of chemical weapons use to step up its military involvement in Syria. Barack Obama will discuss the issue with Putin at the G8 in Dublin next week.

According to Adnkronos, at summit in Rome, the Italian government pushed for the immediate release of €6 billion euros of EU funds to boost employment. Labour ministers from Italy, France, Spain and Germany attended the four-nation summit. Italy's new prime minister Enrico Letta has demanded that European Council president Herman Van Rompuy put measures to boost jobs, especially for young people, high on the agenda at the 27-28 June meeting of EU heads of state and government in Brussels.

Meanwhile, Ansa says a tweet from Italy's Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, said he had held a video-conference with David Cameron, François Hollande, Angela Merkel and Barack Obama. He said the talks were preparatory to the G8 meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Northern Ireland. Prism, the NSA's web surveillance programme, will be a key topic at the next G8 summit.  

The Irish Times reports the British government has issued an alert to airlines around the world, urging them not to allow former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden to board flights to the United Kingdom. Snowden revealed top-secret documents about US National Security Agency surveillance programmes and is believed to be in Hong Kong.

Euronews says some 70 percent of eligible voters in Tehran have cast their ballot in Iran’s presidential elections. The deadline was extended on four occasions during the day. An independent pollster, IPos, says 64-year-old cleric Hassan Rohani, seen as a leading moderate, was leading the race with around 38 percent of the vote.

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