High-ranking Lebanese officials today condemned Egypt's Luxor massacre. In a telegram addressed to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Lebanese president Elias Al-Hrawi said Lebanon strongly denounces the heinous crime in Luxor in which innocent blood of Egyptians and foreign tourists was spilled. Lebanon's main Islamic groups, the Jamaa Islamiya and Hizbullah, also condemned the attack in which Moslem militants killed about 68 tourists, mostly Swiss and Japanese nationals. The Jamaa Islamiya said Monday's massacre aimed at weakening Egypt and Arab Moslem nations at a time when solidarity was most needed. Jamaa's only parliamentary deputy Khaled Daher in a statement said this savage crime harms Islam more than it harms any other party. In another statement, Hizbullah denounced and condemned the attack which Hizbullah said served neither the interest of assailants nor the confrontation with the Zionist enemy. Meanwhile, Egypt's biggest Islamic militant group, Al-Gamaa al-Islamiya claimed responsibility for the attack saying it had planned to take hostage as many tourists as possible to force the release of its leader, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman from a US jail who is serving a life sentence for plotting to blow up the World Trade Center and other New York landmarks.
Guerrillas of the National Syrian Social Party (NSSP) today fired mortars on an Israeli-allied militia post in the South Israel occupies in South Lebanon. An Israeli allied militia source in the South said the attack targeted one of its positions on a hill overlooking the village of Ain Taher, but did not inflict casualties. An NSSP statement said the party will carry out other operations against the Israeli occupation after a forced time-out. Today's attack was first by the party since 1990. Prior to that, the group launched numerous anti-Israeli operations, particularly suicide attacks as part of the National Resistance Front.
Kuwait's deputy prime minister and foreign minister Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah today held talks with the three Lebanese top leaders. First, he held talks at the presidential palace at Baabda with president Elias Al-Hrawi in the presence of Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz and Kuwait's ambassador to Lebanon Abdel Razzak al-Kandari. The Kuwaiti foreign minister handed Hrawi a letter from the Kuwaiti prince Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Discussions at Baabda centered on bilateral issues and the recent Iraq-UN crisis over arms inspections in Iraq. In Nijmeh Square, al-Sabah later met House Speaker Nabih Berri. He held talks with Berri on Kuwait's stance concerning the Iraq-UN crisis. After the meeting, al-Sabah said any military strike in Iraq would have a negative effect on his country. The Kuwaiti official also held discussions with prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri at the government palace. After their meeting, al-Sabah called on all countries to respect UN resolutions and especially on Israel to abide by the US security council resolution 425 and the land for peace formula. The Kuwaiti foreign minister arrived in Beirut last night as part of a regional tour to discuss the recent showdown in Iraq with a number of Arab leaders in the Mideast.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and House Speaker Nabih Berri will meet at 6:30 this evening at Berri's residence in Ain Al-Teeneh. Discussions are expected to center on financial and economic matters. The two leaders will also discuss the public sector pay scales draft law and the 1998-state budget. Talks will be held in the presence of Acting Finance minister of State Fouad Sanyoura and other economic figures in the country.
President Elias AL-Hrawi was quoted today by his visitors at Baabda as saying the legislative and executive authorities in the country should cooperate on implementing the public sector pay scales draft law. He called for an understanding between cabinet and parliament to discuss this issue in a deeper and more comprehensive manner. Hrawi was also quoted as saying the issue should be viewed as a national responsibility. Hrawi had also discussed administrative issues with minister Bshara Mirhej.
Minister Marwan Hmadeh today said the conference of French-Speaking counties that was recently held in Hanoi was a victory to Lebanon and the Lebanese. Lebanon will host the summit in the year 2001. Besides, Lebanon participated in one way or another in the appointment of Boutrous Boutrous Ghali, former UN secretary general, who is of a an Egyptian origin as the secretary general of Francophone countries. In an interview with Radio Orient, Hmadeh also praised the different meetings held between prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri and a number of world leaders, describing these meetings as necessary in boosting bilateral ties with these countries.
McDonald's Corporation today announced it has signed an agreement with Jean Claude Zoghzoghi, a licensee who will develop and operate McDonald's restaurants in Lebanon. The first McDonald's restaurant is expected to open in Beirut, in late 1998, with additional restaurants following shortly. During the contract signing ceremony, members of McDonald's top management welcomed their newest international licensee. Zoghzoghi will undergo intensive training at McDonald's restaurants in the region as part of his preparation to run the world's most popular restaurants. It is expected that the restaurants in Lebanon will serve the traditional McDonald's menu, found in 105 countries around the world and throughout the Middle East.
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