On the sidelines of three-day Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, President Elias Al-Hrawi today held talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Khatemi. Hrawi is the first Lebanese head of state to visit Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. During the meeting, the Iranian President called on all factions in Lebanon to obey the Lebanese government and said resistance to Israeli occupation of South Lebanon should take on a national dimension. Khatemi added that all states have a duty to help Lebanon oppose its aggressors adding that Iran wants a strong state in Lebanon. For his part, the Lebanese president thanked Khatemi for his voiced trust in Lebanon. He also said he had discussions with his Iranian counterpart on the developments in the region and the situation in South Lebanon describing the daily Israeli aggressions on Southern villages and emphasizing the right of the resistance in the South. Hrawi added Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-line policies were the main reason behind the stalemate in the peace process.
Hrawi also stressed the necessity of Arab solidarity. The Lebanese delegation comprising Hrawi, prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri, foreign minister Faris Boueiz and other Lebanese officials held a series of other meetings today. The delegation held talks with top Iranian officials including Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The delegation met Syrian president Hafez Al-Assad in the presence of vice-president Abdel Halim Khaddam, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Sahraa and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amro Moussa. The Lebanese president also met a number of top Azerbijani officials. They held talks on the dominant atmosphere in the summit which last till Thursday and ways of possible cooperation between the two countries. Meanwhile, prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri was expected meet Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz later today.
On parliamentary Wednesday, House Speaker Nabih Berri reportedly reiterated support for holding municipal and mayoral elections. Berri reportedly said if worst comes to worst, appointment could be followed. Berri was also quoted by his visitors as saying parliament will hold a legislative general session next Thursday to ratify the draft municipal and mayoral election law in case the joint parliamentary committees finalize studying it tomorrow. Meanwhile, the budget and finance parliamentary committee continued studying the draft 1998-sate budget. Today the committee ratified the budget of the Ministry of Economy and Trade decreased by 15%. The committee was excepted to study the budget of the Ministry of Labor later today.
A United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon post under construction in South Lebanon was blown on Monday night. The peacekeeping force today said the attack which did not inflict casualties was the first time a post of the nine-nations force was deliberately blown up. A statement by UNIFIL said unknown elements blew up a UNIFIL post of the Nepalese battalion which was still under construction near the village of Yater at the edge of the zone Israel occupies in the South. The statement added UNIFIL condemns this criminal action which targeted a position whose only function was to give added protection to the people of the area. A UNIFIL source said an investigation into the incident was in progress.
The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group today continued a meeting they started yesterday to discuss two complaints filed by Lebanon over the killing of three civilians and the expulsion of a family from the zone Israel occupies in the South. Lebanon accused Israel of placing the landmines which killed on Friday the three Lebanese civilians and wounded a fourth outside the occupation zone near the village of Majdel Selem.
Lebanon has filed a second complaint over the expulsion on Saturday of a Lebanese family from the occupation zone. The committee has repeatedly dropped Lebanese complaints over expulsions considering they were not covered by the terms of the 1996 accord. Meanwhile, Israeli forces today kidnapped a Lebanese citizen, Nabil Hassan Joumaa who is from the village of Kfar Kila. Joumaa is a member of the Israeli allied militia in South Lebanon.
Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr today summoned the Central Security council to discuss the proliferation of television shows dealing openly with sex, an issue which has spurred the Lebanese government to call a meeting of top security officials. In Lebanon, open discussions of pre-marital sex and homosexuality are deemed a threat to national security.
The Central Security Council today met to discuss the security threat. Earlier this week, Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa threatened penalizing TV stations if they continued shocking their viewers.
An Iraqi trade delegation today held talks in the chamber of commerce and industry on the possibility of importing goods and medicine from Lebanon and other items that fall under the oil-for-food deal with the UN. The head of the Iraqi delegation Zouhair Abdel Ghafoor Younis hoped UN sanction imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990 would be soon lifted.
Younis added this would enable his country to export its goods to foreign countries, thus help the economic expansion bid in Iraq. The head of the chamber of Adnan Al-Kassar stressed Lebanon's will to help in the development of Iraq's economic sectors. The delegation earlier visited the ministers of Economy and Industry Yassin Jaber and Nadim Salem. Discussions centered on bilateral trade relations within the framework of the UN oil-for-food deal. Meanwhile, a Libyan economic delegation is expected in Beirut this evening for talks on the possibility of importing agricultural goods from Lebanon. The delegation is expected to meet Agriculture Minister Shawki Fakhouri tomorrow morning.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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