Israeli warplanes today rocketed suspected Palestinian targets South of Beirut. Witnesses said two planes fired a total of four rockets at the Naameh Hills. Today's raid raised to 75 the number of Israeli air assaults on Lebanon this year. An official from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General command confirmed the raid but there were no immediate reports on casualties. On October 26, an Israeli raid on the area killed a Palestinian nurse and set up fires in the hills.
Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro continues his four-day official visit to Lebanon. This morning, Scalfaro met President Elias Al-Hrawi at the presidential palace in Baabda. The two presidents were later joined by House Speaker Nabih Berri and other Lebanese officials and Italian diplomats. Discussions centered on economic and political bilateral ties and developments in the region. After the meeting, both presidents issued statements to the press. The Italian president stressed Israel's right to security but added that the Israel should also respect Lebanon's right for sovereignty. Scalfaro also called on Israel to implement UN Security Council Resolution 425 which calls for its unconditional withdrawal form South Lebanon. President Elias Al-Hrawi meanwhile thanked Italy for its humanitarian assistance to Lebanon during the war years. Hrawi also praised Italy's role in Lebanon's reconstruction drive. Scalfaro's visit is expected to strengthen the already solid ties between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Italian foreign minister today held talks with his Lebanese counterpart Faris Bouiez at Boustrous Palace. The Italian minister called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to moderate his hard-line policies towards Lebanon and the Middle East peace process adding there wasn't any military pressure on Israel not to do so.
On the last day of his official visit to Japan, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri met Emperor Akihito at the empirial palace in Tokyo. Their meeting was in many ways a deviation form the strict Japanese empirial tradition. Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko received Hariri and his wife Nazek Al-Hariri accompanied by the Lebanese ambassador to Japan Samir Shamma. After their meeting, Hariri said the Emperor hoped the Lebanese-Japanese talks were fruitful. Discussions centered on the reconstruction drive in the country. Akihito who wanted to be better informed about the situation of Lebanese in and outside Lebanon, hoped peace will prevail in Lebanon and the Middle East. The Japanese Emperor however violated the strict Japanese empirial tradition twice during his meeting with Hariri. First, the Emperor does not usually receive all officials who visit Japan, even some presidents. Second, today's meeting lasted for half an hour which is considered to be a very long session.
Acting Finance Minister of State Fouad Sanyoura who is accompanying Hariri in his visit today evaluated the outcome of official talks between Lebanon and Japan describing the talks as highly fruitful and successful. Sanyoura said contacts wills till be made with Japanese officials in the private sector adding two Lebanese delegations will be sent to Lebanon before the end of this month to study ways of implementing projects related to the environment and tourism sectors in Lebanon.
In another development, the Prime Minister met a delegation from the Discover the World Institution. Talks centered on ways of cooperation to develop the tourism sector in Lebanon. Hariri also met a delegation of ambassadors and Arab diplomats. He informed them of the outcome of his visit and the developments in the peace process.
Syrian Vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam said peace with Israel could be reached within three months if the Jewish state returns the occupied Golan Heights. Khaddam was speaking last night during a political talks show aired on Lebanon's private Future TV station. But Khaddam also said Syria would not accept threats. Syria rejects any formulas for peace with Israel unless it leads to full withdrawal form the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle east war. Syria also wants peace talks with Israel to be resumed at the point they reached with the previous Israeli government. Khaddam also said the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks in Washington were a new maneuver by Israel to show that progress was underway so to persuade cynical Arabs to attend the regional Doha summit on November 16 which Israel is also expected to attend. The Syrian Vice President expected the summit will be a failure adding its has lost all value. Khaddam said the conference was for Israel's benefit and that Arab countries which participate in it are going against the Arab Nation.
Concerning the recent row between Iraq and the United Nations over the banning of American inspectors form Iraq, Khaddam said his country rejected any military solution and warned against any military attack on Iraq. He expressed his belief that there will be talks between Iraq and the UN Security Council and that France and Russia will play a role in this regard to reach a solution.
Lebanon dismissed Amnesty International Reports of human rights violations in the country as lies fabricated by dubious sources to damage the nation's image. Prosecutor general Adnan Addoum issued a 13-page reply to an October 9 report by the organization that said human rights in Lebanon faced an increasing threat from the state's determination of enforcing its authority. Addoum said judicial investigations in these claims revealed their falseness and invalidity because in essence they are lies fabricated by suspected people or agents of Israel aimed at distorting the image of the Lebanese authority. Addoum also denied there were prisoners of conscience in Lebanon.
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