News from Beirut October 15  1997 ...Search

Berri and Hariri clear the air at Baabda last night

After last night's presidential meeting at Baabda, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-hariri announced a six-point agreement. Berri listed them as follows :

- Holding municipal and mayoral elections as soon as possible before a deadline set for April 1998.

- Reactivating government supervision over state departments as well as funds financed by the government.

- Rotating senior civil service employees in public institutions so that no post will be reserved for a specific sect.

- Prohibiting the employment of civil servants without prior approval of the civil service council or the cabinet, with priority of ill vacancies given to those already employed.

- Giving priority for the top jobs to people already working for the administration to avoid accusations of bias.

- Creating a body to oversee subsidized medical prescriptions for the public.

Berri added speculations over a cabinet reshuffle were unjustified, stressing the government will continue to work on maintaining the 37 percent deficit limit for the 1998 state budget.

Hariri meets Hrawi at Baabda

President Elias Al-Hrawi today met Prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri at the presidential palace in Baabda. Top on the agenda of talks was the six-point agreement reached yesterday between Lebanon's three top leaders. The agreement cleared the air between Hariri and Berri who were able to sort out some of their differences concerning their debate on the 1998-state budget.

Parliament holds last legislative extra-ordinary session

The last extra-ordinary parliamentary session for this summer was held today. Parliament authorized the government to join an international convention committing member countries to fight hostage-taking. The 128-member parliament approved the move on condition of adding a clause stating that signing the treaty would not oblige Lebanon to recognize or coordinate with the state of Israel. The clause said "The Lebanese Republic stresses that its understanding of the convention... does not affect its stance in support of the right of states and nations to confront and resist foreign occupation on its territories," referring to Israel's occupation of a self-declared security zone in South Lebanon.

The 1979 convention states that "hostage taking is a crime that disturbs the international community and anyone who commits it should be taken to court or handed over." Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri told parliament that the signing of the convention and the recent US decision to lift the travel ban on Lebanon were not linked, adding there were no conditions that Lebanon had to fulfill in return for lifting the ban. Parliament later discussed bills and draft-laws, returning bills on drugs and the exemption of religious authorities form paying taxes to the concerned committees for further studies.

Deputies addressed issues concerning last night's meeting in Baabda between House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime minister Hariri. Berri who stressed no written agreements were reached last night, said both leaders discussed ways to implement approved laws.

US Task Force visits Hariri

The American Task Force for Lebanon today visited Prime Minster Rafik Al-Hariri at the government palace. Discussions centered on the situation in the South and the developments in the region concerning stalled peace negotiations. The team said Hariri attaches great importance to the development of the economic sector and infrastructure work in the country. Chairman of the team, Thomas Nassif described his group's visit to the premier as excellent. After the meeting, Nassif told reporters that talks centered on economic conditions in the country, the national debt and the national deficit. The group who is in Lebanon to celebrate the recent lifting of the travel ban on the country will report to US officials the role that the Task Force can play in the reconstruction effort to generate interest among American businesses .

Lebanese businessmen warned not to go to Qatar

The foreign parliamentary committee yesterday warned Lebanese businessmen against participating in the regional economic summit to be held in Qatar next month. Head of the committee, deputy Ali Al-Khalil said the committee recommended all Arab countries to boycott the conference and warned business men holding citizenship other than Lebanese against using this as an excuse for participating. Lebanon and Syria are boycotting the summit in which Israel is expected to participate.

Hariri visits Tehran this month

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri is due to visit Tehran this month, the first by a Lebanese premier in 23 years. A government official said Hariri will visit the Islamic republic for five days from October 25 at the invitation of Iranian president Mohammed Khatami. Hariri and his accompanying ministerial delegation will hold talks with Iranian leaders on bilateral relations and the situation in the Middle East, as well as sign cooperation accords. The premier is also expected visit Tokyo on November 3 and will lead to Hanoi on November 17 to take part in a conference of francophone countries.

McDonald's announces plans to operate in Lebanon

McDonald's Corporation announced yesterday it would open its first restaurant in Lebanon late next year. James Cantalupo, chief executive of McDonald's International said with a population exceeding 3.5 million people, Lebanon has the potential to be a major Middle East market for McDonalds. The company has signed as agreement with Jean Claude Zoghzoghi who will develop and operate the restaurants, the first of which will open in Beirut.


-Lebanon ping pong championship for individuals and teams is to end today at  Mont La Salle.

-Lebanon's Olympic committee is due to meet tomorrow to discuss Tehran West Asia tournament, request of the bridge union to join the committee and financial requests by some unions.

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