News from Beirut October 31  1997 ...Search

Israeli war planes attack the South

Israeli warplanes staged a raid today on a Hizbullah position in the South. An Israeli military spokesman said the Position located to the west of Jezzine was destroyed. But the warplanes staged a second raid against suspected Hizbullah targets in the Iqilm Al-Touffah mountain ridge in the South. Three hours earlier, an Israeli warplane rocketed the valley of Kharba between the Southern port-city of Sidon and the Iqlim Al-Touffah hills. No casualties were reported in the air assaults.

Two Israeli allied militia members killed in the South

Hizbullah guerrillas killed two members of the Israeli allied militia in South Lebanon early this morning. Allied militia sources said their two members were killed when guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb near their car in Jezzine. In Beirut, Hizbullah claimed responsibility for the attack, which raised the number of deaths in the militia to 18 this year.

Hariri meets Hrawi before leaving to Damascus

Prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri this morning visited President Elias Al-Hrawi at the presidential palace in Baabda. Discussions centered on the decisions taken by cabinet during its latest session. Both leaders exchanged views on cabinet’s amendments on the mayoral and municipal election law.

The prime minister later headed to Syria where he held talks with Syrian Vice President Abdel Haleem Khaddam and other high ranking Syrian officials. Discussions centered on regional developments. Syria had called for international pressure on Israel to adopt peace moves, noting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard line policies have led the region into an explosive atmosphere. Meanwhile, Syria called on the US to play a more active role in the Middle East.

Byelorussian foreign minister meets three top leaders

President Elias Al-Hrawi this morning held a meeting with Byelorussian foreign minister Evan Antonovich. After the meeting, the Byelorussian official expressed admiration at the president’s analysis of the situation in Lebanon and the region. He said his visit to Lebanon was aimed at boosting bilateral relations between the two countries. Antonovich earlier met House Speaker Nabih Berri and prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri at their residence in Ain Al-Teeneh and Koraytem. After meeting Berri, he stressed his country’s support to all UN resolutions especially resolution 425 which calls for the unconditional withdrawal of Israel form all occupied Lebanese territories. He also voiced the necessity of finding a peaceful solution in the region. After talks with Hariri, the Byelorussian foreign minister said he invited the premier to pay an official visit to his country adding the prime minister promised to do so in the near future. Antonovich also stressed the necessity of developing political and economic ties between Byelorussia and Lebanon.

Lebanon hopes to cut food imports by 10% through new import controls

Agriculture minister Shawki Fakhouri today held a press conference providing further details of the new food regulations approved by cabinet during it latest session held two days ago. Cabinet approved detailed lists of protected items in order to start protection conditions as of today. The country is expected to cut its $1.5 billion annual food import bill by 10% next year through the new import controls. Import of over 150 agricultural and food items would be halted to remove competition for Lebanese products and boost local production. The banned products are mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and animal products. During the press conference, Fakhouri said this was the first step in the thousand-mile trip towards improving and protecting agricultural production. Luxury items such as  exotic fruits or those equivalent such as canned fruit, ice cream, frozen vegetables, honey and jam would also face a hike in custom duties of 10 to 40 percent over current rates. Fakhoury added the aim was to cut the country’s food import bill by half within the next three years. The new regulations will be subject to review each July. Fakhoury had announced in June a plan for higher taxes or outright bans on some imports as a way to protect domestic agriculture. He said then the ban would prohibit the import of 20% of the items on Lebanon’s food import bill.

Italian president to visit Lebanon on November 5

The Italian ambassador in Lebanon Carlo Calia today held a press conference announcing a visit by Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro to Lebanon on November 5. Calia explained the agenda of Scalfaro’s three-day official visit. Scalfaro will hold official talks with president Elias Al-Hrawi, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The Italian president is also expected to inspect the work of Italian troops at the UNIFIL headquarters in South Lebanon. During the visit, Italy and Lebanon are expected to sign a number of cooperation agreements.

Sports Review:


The Arab Union for Tennis today concluded its administrative meetings. Accordingly, a set of decisions was issued concerning the game and the union’s future plans and activities. Lebanon will host the Tenth Arab Championship for men and ladies next September.

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