The three Lebanese top leaders today held talks at the presidential palace in Baabda. President Elias Al-Hrawi, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri convened to sort out their differences regarding the 1998 budget draft bill. No official statement was released however after their meeting.
As part of his weekly Monday meetings, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today held talks with a number of deputies. Before leaving to Baabda to hold discussions with President Elias Al-Hrawi and House Speaker Nabih Berri, Hariri reportedly expressed satisfaction in light of last night's presidential meeting in Baabda held to debate the 1998 state budget between Lebanon's three top leaders. Today, all visiting deputies at the government palace agreed on the necessity of finding ways to solve current problems in the country. After meeting the premier, Deputy Rashid Al-Kahzen said he was positive there was no personal disagreements between Berri and Hariri.
Deputy Antoine Haddad, on the other hand, said taxes should be collected on an equal basis between the different Lebanese areas, adding he supports taxation on petrol. Among the visitors was deputy Kabalan Issa Al-Khouri who called for a scientific study of the 1998-state budget.
Press reports said the economical, political and financial differences turned into personal dispute between the prime minister and the house speaker. Their bickering turned to high one. Prime minister Rafik Hariri was quoted saying at a popular meeting at Coral Beach "there are militias that reached to the office instead of prison". House speaker Nabih Berri, in a counter remark, described Hariri and his policies as hegemony and monopoly calling for a root change of his economical and financial policies.
The prime minister's information office, in a counter reaction to the house speaker address, said the relation with Syria is an option and not a gamble, and for that it is not acceptable that this issue to be a subject of argument out of its framework. On the issue of resistance against the Israeli occupation, the office said it is a legitimate right and if there is any pay off for the resistance we are ready to pay in order to defend the land and the dignity. The office clarified that what was attributed to the prime minister at Beirut people's League at the Coral beach and published in one of the Lebanese dailies was not authentic.
The Budget and Finance Committee in Parliament today met in the presence of Acting Finance Minister Fouad Senyoura who discussed the general financial policy of the government and the reasons behind the high deficit in the state budget.
Meanwhile, house speaker Nabih Berri called on a general session to be held next Wednesday in parliament to debate the draft laws scheduled to be discussed.
In Boustrous Palace, Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz today met the Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Oleg Presipkin. Discussions centered on the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov to Lebanon due to take place on the 24th of this month. Presipkin denied the visit was aimed at pushing the Mideast peace process forward. The Russian ambassador said talks will center on possible ways of improving bilateral ties between the two countries in light of the recent visit of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri to Russia. Among the visitors of Boustrous palace today was the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Lebanon Abdel Razzak Al-Kandari who met the foreign ministry's Zafer Al-hassan. The two officials discussed the Islamic summit to be held in Tehran next December and the issue of the Arab nominations for the UN Security Council membership.
Israeli intelligence forces today advanced to the village of Arnoun just outside the zone Israel occupies in South Lebanon and kidnapped Zainab Nasser whose Husband and son were also kidnapped recently on charges of cooperation with the Lebanese resistance in the South.
The American task Force organization's delegation including 34 people headed by Thomas Nassif announced, upon arrival to Beirut on Saturday, that the US economical and military support to Lebanon is necessary "to enable it to defend its border and to give no excuse to any state to occupy its land under the pretext of its inability to defend itself". Nassif said the Task Force cannot be regarded as Lebanese lobby but its an American organization and the delegation members are independent Americans who aim to build friendship between Lebanon and the US.
-Lebanese Roger Feghali won the Cedars 7th Rally, the last in Lebanon's championship in 1997, with his assistant Ziyad Chehab in a Renault Clio.
-Lebanese int. chess player Mansour Assaf is in the leading rank of Lebanon ordinary chess championship. The chess championship is held at the Arab university of Beirut.
Last night, "Ansar" played against "Racing" on the Jamal Abel Nasser sport stadium in Bekaa. Results were 1-1 with a saving goal for the "Ansar" scored at the minute 90, the last minute of the game.
During the weekend, "Nijmeh" scored over "Beirut 90" (13-0) and "Hikmeh" over "Tadamon -Nabatieh" (12-0) and "As-sahel" over "Salam-Tyre" (5-0).
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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