-P.M. Rafiq Hariri is due to leave today to paris to meet P.M. Chirac. Talks will focus on pursuing discussions over the latest conference of Lebanon's friends. Mr Hariri held Jan. 2 a preparatory meeting of concerned ministers prior to a meeting of the Syrian Lebanese coordination committee scheduled on Jan. 11 in Damascus, including Prime Ministers of Syria and Lebanon and concerned ministers. The meeting will mark signing agreements over industry, oil, transport and agriculture. Mr Hariri announced that agreements over investments and dual taxation will be signed.
News over the bus explosion which wrecked Syrian capital Dec 30 is on front pages of Lebanese media papers. Syrian official source declared that the criminal cowardless and terrorist action was in sequence with Israeli latest threats, in a reference to a declaration given by Israeli coordinator in Lebanon Uri Lubrani.
Papers say that the bus was usually working on Aleppo-Beirut, but before new year it has been shifted to work on Damascus-Aleppo line.
-P. Hrawi and P.M. Rafic Hariri held Jan 2 an evening meeting at Baabda palace to review and evaluate the political and judicial aspects of the sweep of security arrests. The meeting is prior to Hariri departure to Paris today. The Two officials discussed the possible impacts of the sweep on Lebanon Friend's conference. P.Hrawi affirmed Jan.2 that the file of arrests is at an end and it is now in hands of the judicial authority. He was quoted saying that arrests were an ordinary matter, as a respond to any attempt to disturb security, and that any other country would do the same and takes same measures to maintain its security .
Envoys of P.Hrawi and Hariri were in contact with Patriarch Sfeir following personal visits of the two presidents to the Patriarch, to reaffirm there was no political background of the latest arrests, neither it was targeting Christian opposition groups. The envoys also affirmed that the governments is sticking to its security achievement and it is definitely not ready to loose it or permit any security manipulations whoever does it.
They also recalled that Moslems too were arrested in past, including some clergymen, when an explosion took place at Balamand, amid assassination of Sheikh Nizar Halabi, and Tripoli events last year. The envoys also put emphasis that security measures carried during the holiday was not directed against Christian or a Christian group and that the measures should not be interpreted that way, because it will give an image of unstable Lebanon and serve schemes and interests of Israel, also create more depressions among christians. A political treatment is underway to contain the christian broad objections following the sweep of arrests.
Two detonated letters were found Jan 2 at the offices of the Arabic daily Al-Hayat in Washington police sources said. Local police spokesman said an employee of the paper which is published in London, with an office at Washington international press building 11th floor, has opened part of the two letters before he called the police. The police said the same person, who's identity not disclosed, has received another message Jan 2 morning.
The spokesman of the FBI said the contents of the two messages sent from abroad could have caused enormous damage. The paper office refrained to give any comment over the incident. Federal and local police are conducting joint investigation over the incident.
French spokesman denied Jan 2 news saying a meeting was held between Israeli and French military official to discuss situation in South Lebanon. The spokesman affirmed same time that France is ready to participate to implement any peace agreement between Lebanon and Israel, but at Present there is no such peace agreement.
Patriarch Sfeir visited Jan 1 the Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani to extend his congratulations following election of Sheikh Kabbani. The Patriarch also received at new year a delegation of National gathering headed by Douri Chamoun, also a delegation of Hizbullah.
He emphasised in his address that no peace will prevail with hatred and vengeance, no peace without pardon and forgiveness, and no conciliation with isolation and no respect of truth and justice. He also addressed saying no peace prevails with the rejection of plurality, diversity and free choice.
He also referred that governments here, in bids seeking conciliation, granted pardon to all those who admitted their practices during a stage of unrest, in an indirect first time reference to the case of D.Samir Geagea.
In another respond to P.Elias Hrawi call to religious men not to intervene in politics, the Patriarch said religious men do not deal in politics as politics, but they deal with ethics, values, justice, freedom and seek to rise unfairness, and this is not politics.
The National Gathering including a number of opposition groups, headed by Douri Chamoun, said in a statement issued Jan 2, that what was figured out as a conspiracy against Lebanon security and stability in cooperation with Israel, is in fact a scenario laid down aimed at harming the opposition .
The Gathering said it is committed to the democratic struggle option. It emphasised that the present split is over future of Lebanon as a message identity. It argued whether demanding conciliation and equality is a threat to national security.
Minister of emigrants Talal Arsalan called on phone P.Hrawi and P.M Hariri to extend congratulation in the occasion of new year. He discussed his coming visit on Sunday to Ecuador. His visit schedule includes meeting with Ecuador president Abdallah Abu Karroum, from a Lebanese origin and other ministers.
Education minister Jean Obeid emphasised Jan 2 on national coherence and solidarity because Lebanon will remain and we pass. Minister Obeid received at his office many delegations who raised their demands relevant to educational matters.
MP and Lawyer of the daily An Nahar Mr Boutros Harb asked Jan 2 military prosecutor Riad Talie to release journalist Pierre Atallah. Journalist Atallah was arrested since 10 days for investigations. Lawyer Harb request to release Atallah advocated that latter proved to be innocent of the charges of inciting public conflicts, and request release.
Maronite Bishop of Beirut Boulos Matar on the christmas celebration, said political peace sought by all nations is now integrated with social justice and solidarity between the rich and poor. He said peace in Lebanon is our goal and treasure, and we seek and call for real solidarity and real national unity, and with right and love together we can face any difficulty and overcome everything.
G.O. Bishop Elias Awdeh, amid critics to his X-mas address, said Jan 2 he is speaking about politics but speaks about human, and human pains and problems not discussing neither the constitution nor administration. He says how anyone can prevent him speaking over his sons and sons of the country. He said he is proud of his citizenship and during the war others were destroying while we were building.
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the guide of Hizbullah, says the Syrian Iranian relations are still on its solid base and strategic as before. He also said that what was issued by Damascus declaration states, namely its worry over Iran deployment of missiles in three islands in the Gulf, is not a Syrian conviction nor it is expressing that. He added that the missiles are not aiming at Gulf states but deployed against US forces aircrafts carries and combat ships in the region. He said Iran wanted since the beginning to complement with Gulf states and it advocated always the theory that Gulf is only protected by its people not else, recalled that Iran is the biggest Gulf state but the USA is working on complicating Arab Iranian relations with all its efforts and might.
Sheik Fadlallah said Iran wanted to resume relations with Egypt but the latter, with its problems with the Islamists, is aware of the Islamic influence of Iran.
Colonel Akel Hashem, commander of the West brigade of the Israeli backed SLA denied Jan 2 news over a split between SLA commander Gen. Antoine Lahd and Israel.
Hashem said situation is normal as before and Lahd is in Paris now in a family visit which is frequently taking place. Hashem excluded the possibility of secret contacts between Israel and France over the border strip.
He said Israel has always been stick to its terms over that area. He also denied that the leaflets, circulated lately in Beirut and lead to sweep of arrests, came from the border strip.
Greek Orthodox Bishop of Sidon and Tyre Elias Kfoury called all parties to resume M.E peace talks so that land and right should be returned. He said peace we are seeking is the comprehensive peace which eliminates artificial barriers from various parts of Lebanon, and the peace which gives all Lebanese their right of citizenship, so that no one no more is accused of the most sacred thing in life that is loyalty to his homeland.
P.M. Rafic Hariri decorated Jan 2 at his office the chairman of the Paris based Arab world studies academy Mr. Omar Daydan .
Lebanon central bank announced it will appear on the Internet as of Jan 1 1997 at http://www.bdl.gov.lb . The site will be a reference bulletin and will cover various economical, financial, banking, and legal information.
Three football games are scheduled for today in the 19th stage of the Lebanese cup tournament including Homentmen v/s Shabab Sahel, Riyada-Adab v/s Safaa, and Tadamoun Tyre v/s Shabiba-Mazraa.
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