Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today appealed to Japanese business leaders to invest more in Lebanon and to once again make Lebanon their headquarters in the Middle East. The premier sought to encourage the businessmen by informing them that they could acquire visas at Beirut International Airport and the state has simplified formalities for reopening representative offices in Beirut. He also assured the Japanese Lebanon is one of the most secure cities in the world adding the crime rate is very low and security is well-assured. Hariri who is expected to meet Japanese leader Ryutaro Hashimoto tomorrow declined to specify what sectors would attract Japanese business leaders. But he noted the construction of an international conference center and said there was a possibility for Japanese to buy shares in the small but promising Lebanese market. In another development, the prime minister also discussed Japanese extradition demands for five Red Army members sentenced to three years in prison in Lebanon last July on charges of forgery and illegal residence. Hariri said the two governments will discuss the issue but speculated it will take some time. He added the matter will be dealt with in a positive way saying Lebanon wants to strengthen its relations with japan. Concerning the UN embargo of Iraq, Hariri said Iraq has to respect the international community on the one had and to international community has to consider the suffering of Iraqi people and children on the other. On the Mideast peace process, Hariri blamed the deadlock on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-line policies.
Acting Finance Minister of State Fouad Sanyoura, who is accompanying prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri in his official visit to Japan, today said Japan is a very interesting and important trading partner to Lebanon, the country that always looks for long-term loans that support its economic sectors.
Sanyoura said Hariri's visit will strengthen cooperation between the two countries. He also praised the Japanese will in opening up economically to all the countries of the world. He added Japan's interest in boosting ties with Lebanon results from its desire to reinforce stability in Lebanon and the whole region.
The Lebanese Premier Rafik Al-Hariri is scheduled to visit India next month in a bid to strengthen trade and economic relations between the two countries. Lebanon's ambassador to India Michel Bittar today said Hariri would also look into possible ways for expanding commercial bilateral ties during his visit. Hariri's upcoming trip is the first to India by a Lebanese top official since 1960.
Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro will begin a three-day official visit to Lebanon in a bid to boost political and economic bilateral ties. Scalfaro who is scheduled to hold talks with top Lebanese officials and religious leaders is also due to visit the Italian troops working within the United Nations Interim Forces in South Lebanon. He is expected to tour the UNIFIL headquarters in the town of Naqoura and other areas close to the zone Israeli occupies in the South. Scalfaro's visit will also consolidate the already-strong economic and trade relations between the two countries.
As part of a cooperation program, Italy will spend 200 million dollars in the country between 1988 and 2000. It is worth noting that Italy is now considered as Lebanon's largest trading partner. Italian firms have won several contracts in Lebanon's reconstruction program launched after the 17 years of war.
Employees at the Lebanese University today held a one-day strike to protest against the government's amendments to a draft bill which strips them of valid services and financial aid. The university had also presented the draft bill on tenure law to cabinet two months ago but it was only endorsed after amendments were made from the suggestions of finance minister Fouad Sanyoura. Head of the LU workers' association Haidar Ahmad today said the amendments deprived employees of several services and funds that had been included in the original draft bill prepared by the university council.
The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group today met to discuss an Israeli complaint over an alleged truce violation. The truce panel convened at the headquarters of the united nations Interim Forces in Lebanon in Naqoura.
Israel lodged a complaint yesterday after a southern woman was injured in the town of Rihan. Hizbullah however had denied responsibility of the bombardment. A source close to the Lebanese delegation said Israel was not entitled to file a complaint over the injury of Lebanese civilians, a claim contested by Israel which holds itself responsible for the safety of inhabitants of its "security zone". The source added Israel continues to complain over minor incidents despite recommendations by the French and American delegates to the committee. The panel formed in 1996 to monitor the cease-fire between Israel and Hizbullah urges both sides to abstain from attacks on civilian areas and refrain from carrying out attacks from civilian areas.
A man held in custody on charges murder said he killed his friend at his request because he had AIDS. Hassan Ali Shaheen admitted that he had shot dead Jacques Yacoub Sinior in Tripoli using a gun fitted with a silencer which they owned jointly. Sinior had contracted AIDS two years ago and recently his health and finances had deteriorated. Shaheen added the victim gave him 300 US dollars for carrying out the murder. The judge, who was not convinced by Shaheen's arguments charged Shaheen with premeditated murder and requested an autopsy to verify that the victim had the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
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