News from Beirut November 3 1997 ...Search

Hariri starts official visit to Japan

At 8:15 this morning Beirut time, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri arrived in Tokyo for a four-day official visit accompanied by his wife and an official delegation of ministers and political advisors. Hariri will be holding talks with Japanese officials including his counterpart Ryutaro Hashimoto and the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. The prime minister will also hold meetings with Japanese businessmen, industrialists and firm owners. Lebanese-Japanese discussions are expected to center on ways to develop bilateral ties especially trade, economic, and political relations.

Tomorrow, the premier is scheduled to hold talks with his Japanese counterpart concerning the deadlocked Middle eat peace process as well as the volatile situation in South Lebanon. Discussions will also center on possibilities of economic cooperation and investment opportunities in Lebanon. Regarding the case of the five Japanese Red Army members who are imprisoned after being charges with forgery and illegal residence, sources close to the official delegation said the Lebanese government is ready for cooperation with Tokyo but that more study is needed before giving the Japanese government a final answer on the case. Japan had requested the extradition of the five red Army members after they complete their sentences in Beirut noting that Beirut and Tokyo do not have an extradition treaty.

Hizbullah establishes new combat unit

Hizbullah today invited all Lebanese men, regardless of the religion, sect or political identity, to join a new brigades unit being formed to attack Israeli occupation troops in South Lebanon. During a press conference held this morning in the Lebanese press syndicate, Hizbullah’s secretary general Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the Lebanese Brigades for the Resistance of the Israeli Occupation were being established because many Lebanese wished to fight Israel in a national rather than an Islamic framework. Nasrallah added the objective is to create a framework that enables every Lebanese wishing to take part in resistance activities. He said Hizbullah is ready to start implementing the new formula which will begin as of tomorrow morning. Three cellular phone numbers were given for volunteers who would like to call and set up an appointment. The secretary general said the recruits must demonstrate the physical and psychological ability for different tasks such as planting bombs, attacking outposts, shelling, and reconnaissance. But Nasrallah said the Islamic Resistance would not merge with the new brigades although resistance fighters would initially command the new units. However one day, Nasrallah added, the new framework of the Brigades might become the comprehensive framework for all resistance movements in Lebanon. Among factors prompting Hizbullah’s decision to form the new unit, Nasrallah listed stalled Mideast peace talks, the success of Hizbullah and Israeli losses in the South. Military operations carried out by the new unit would be publicized in separate statements than those issued by the Islamic resistance. According to Nasrallah, the martyrs of the brigades will be treated just like Hizbullah martyrs.

Berri meets parliamentary blocs

House Speaker Nabih Berri today held talks with three blocs in parliament. Berri met the Bekaa Democratic bloc and discussed with its representatives issues related to their area. After the meeting, Deputy Sami Al-Khatib quoted the house speaker as saying developments projects will start being carried out in the Bekaa before the end of this year. Concerning recent press reports saying Al-Khatib was prevented from entering Bekaa recently by supporters of Sheikh Sobhi Toufaily, Deputy Al-Khatib denied the reports. But two other deputy Mohammed Ali Al-Mayss and Antoine Hitti were barred from entering the eastern area of Baalbeck yesterday. Toufaily, leader of the a breakaway faction of Hizbullah, started a civil disobedience movement in May or the so-called hunger revolt and recently announced his supporters will ban government ministers and top officials from entering Baalbeck until his movement’s demands for more social benefits are met. Toufaily had called on the Lebanese to stop paying telephone and electricity bill taxes saying poorer parts of the country do not receive their share fare of funds.

The house speaker also received the municipal and mayoral draft election law and referred it for further study by the concerned committees.

Israel lodges complaint as Lebanese woman injured in South yesterday

A Lebanese woman was wounded yesterday when mortar rounds fell on the southern village of Rihan in the zone Israel occupies in the South. Israeli allied militia sources said the woman, Amneh al-Zein, was wounded and her house damaged. But Hizbullah denied responsibility for the shelling.

But today Israel filed a complaint to the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group concerning the injury of the woman. The committee will discuss the complaint tomorrow in Naqoura.

Earlier yesterday, an Israeli warplane fired a rocket on the hills of Aqmata in Iqlim al-Touffah. But no casualties were reported. Israeli soldiers also clashed with resistance guerrillas in the Qsaret al-Aroush area in the central sector. Hizbullah said the attack inflicted casualties among Israeli army ranks.

Lebanon stages international conference

A five-day international conference on redevelopment and post-war urban reconstruction is expected to open in Lebanon on November 10 as part of a three-year work program implemented by the International union of Architects. Jad Tabet, director of the program, said it was the first time since the reconstruction of European towns after world War II that the subject would be debated at such a conference. Delegates from Bosnia, Germany, Italy, Poland and Vietnam are expected to participate.

Sports Review:


Lebanon got the Sixth Arab championship for youth in Judo. Lebanese athletes won four gold medals, two silver and three bronze. The championship is organized every year by appointment from the Arab union of the game.

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