Russian Foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov arrived in Beirut today on the first leg of a Middle East tour aimed at reviving the ailing Arab-Israeli peace process. Lebanese Foreign minister Faris Boueiz held discussions with his Russian counterpart upon his arrival. Talks centered on the Lebanese concern over the continuing attitude of Israel which risks causing the collapse of the peace process. Primakov, who last visited the region a year ago, is also due to meet Lebanese president Elias Al-Hrawi, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and House Speaker Nabih Berri later today. He will leave tomorrow to Syria. Primakov will also visit Israel, the West bank, Jordan and Egypt where he will meet senior officials including Arab League
Secretary Issmat Abdel Majeed in Cairo before rapping up his tour on October 31. Upon his arrival at Beirut International Airport, Primakov told reporters his country supports Lebanon and the peace process stressing the importance of the role of Lebanon in solving the crisis in the region.
Primakov also expressed his country's readiness to join the April cease-fire understanding in a bid to create conditions for breaking the stalemate in talks with Israel and for removing tension in South Lebanon.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri heads tomorrow to Tehran on a four-day official visit. Today, the prime minister held talks with the Iranian charge d'affairs in Lebanon Mohammed Irani. After their meeting, Irani said the premier's visit tomorrow is one of the most important by a Lebanese official. Irani revealed the prime minister will hold three meetings with top Iranian officials. Hariri is also scheduled to meet Iranian business leaders and to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries.
The premier will also visit economic and industrial establishments in Iran. On the eve of his visit, the premier held a series of meetings with Lebanese deputies and foreign diplomats. He received the Japanese ambassador to Lebanon Yasuji Ishigaki. Discussions centered on Hariri's expected visit to Tokyo at the beginning of next month. Ishigaki told reporters preparations are underway in Tokyo for the premier's visit describing it as very important in developing economic and trade ties between the two countries.
During his four-day visit, Hariri is expected to sign two agreements with Japanese officials, one encouraging Japanese investment in Lebanon and the other preventing double taxation. The Japanese ambassador said discussions will be held to strengthen future cooperation between the two countries.
Hundreds of Lebanese troops were dispatched to the eastern Bekaa Valley today to crack down on a growing number of car-stealing gangs. Soldiers and policemen supported by tens of armored vehicles and three army helicopters took part in the campaign which started at dawn. Security sources said ten people were arrested and 10 stolen cars were seized. The crackdown was launched after members of a gang yesterday kidnapped four people in a bid to swap them for their relative who was arrested by security forces. The gangs often steal cars from the Beirut and to other cities and take them to the remote northeastern part of the Bekaa Valley where they are sold.
Lebanon's labor union has called for a one-day strike in November to press the government to meet long-standing demands for higher wages and benefits. Some 350,000 workers from the General Labor Confederation will stage the November 13 warning strike to pressure the government to triple the monthly minimum wages to 800,000 Lebanese pounds ($522) double pensions for the private sector and adjust salaries to match the rate of inflation. Other demands include medical insurance after retirement, tighter monitoring of price controls and reforming the tax system to ease the burden of low income earners. GLC president Ghaneim Al- Zoghbi held a press conference yesterday saying his leadership decided on the strike after reaching a deadlock in its negotiations with officials but pledged that talks will continue in an effort to reach an agreement before the strike. However, the union threatened to stage an open strike if its demands are not met.
UN Resident Coordinator, Ross Mountain today held a press conference on the occasion of the UN Day, a day celebrated annually around the world. Mountain said the reform process in the country should lead to a UN system better prepared to support and meet challenges of national development.
Over twenty UN organizations are working in Lebanon in partnership with he government to promote national, economic and social development and social peace. Their activities cover a wide range, spanning from peace keeping and assistance to refugees to financial and technical assistance for development. Mountain also welcomed the return of the UN Economic and Social commission for Western Asia to Beirut. The UN resident coordinator praised the progress recorded in international development cooperation programs with Lebanon. He concluded by saying the UN is proud of its different achievement sin Lebanon but not satisfied adding much more remains to be done.
The first International championship in Table Tennis for ladies was opened last night. The championship is organized by Lebanese Union of the game and supervised by International Union. It grants rewards of about 20,000 US dollars. The opening followed eight hours of preparatory games.
The Lebanese delegation which participated in the Sixth Masdonia Tae-Kwando championship in Greece returned to recently to Beirut. Lebanon scored two gold medals and two bronze medals. The championship hosted participants from five countries: Greece, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Cyprus, and Lebanon.
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