News from Beirut December 19  1997 ...Search

Kfar Falous border crossing opens today

At 9:30 this morning, journalists, families, officials and some deputies crossed the Kfar Falous border crossing to and from Jezzine after 12 years of closure. The move meant a lot to people of Jezzine who have families and even houses in Saida and other parts of the country.

Speaking to some of those who were coming from Jezzine, it was obvious that many of them were just crossing Kfar Falous to visit Saida or other areas without having any one to visit in these areas. The tears of some revealed the intensity of the long-waited moment. Yesterday the Lebanese army was working on the final necessary preparations before today's reopening, such as carrying out de-mining processes and road maintenance.

The Kfar Falous crossing, 12 kilometers east of Saida will allow residents of the area to reach the cost in just 20 minutes. Besides, it will remove the difficulties faced by many residents of Jezzine to reach jobs in the bigger part of the country.

Hrawi holds talks with Hariri

At the Baabda presidential palace, President Elias Al-Hrawi received prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The two leaders held talks for half an hour but Hariri refused to comment to reporters after their meeting. Sources at the palace said discussions centered on the discussions held during the recent legislative sessions of the parliament. The president also received deputy

House Speaker Elie Al-Firzli. After long discussions with Hrawi , Firzli told reporters at the palace parliament's session next week is scheduled to ratify the draft municipal and mayoral election law especially the issue of appointment in its final form. President Hrawi later held talks with Deputy Marwan Hmadeh.

Hariri opens main road network of the BCD

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today inaugurated the main road network of the Beirut Central District. In his opening speech, the premier stressed Lebanon will go ahead in its reconstruction drive. He also warned all those who think they can mess with Lebanese-Syrian ties by saying the relationship between the two countries is very deep and is built on strong basis. Hariri added that only the Israelis were the ones who were trying to mess with peace by bombing the South almost everyday.

Hariri reiterated Lebanon's importance as an economic, touristic and cultural attraction center to all the Arabs of the world. He called on the Lebanese not to despair and always believe in their country and its future. Hariri then crossed the tunnel which links the downtown area to Fouad Shhab bridge and Ashrafieh. He was accompanied by deputies, ministers, and a number of ambassadors and businessmen. The ceremony was organized by the private company Solidere in charge of reconstruction works in the downtown area.

The tunnels network is equipped with the latest technologies concerning lighting, ventilation, and fire-extinguishing systems. The network is also equipped with special cameras linked to a control room to observe the traffic. Work on the network was completed nine months before the planned deadline.

Chinese Foreign Minister launches Mideast tour in Beirut

Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen today held talks in Beirut with Lebanese officials on the first leg of his 10-day peace tour in the Middle East. At Boustrous palace, Qian met his Lebanese counterpart Faris Boueiz on the Middle East peace process and ways to strengthen bilateral ties.

After the meeting, Qian told reporters at the foreign ministry he backed an Israeli pullout from South Lebanon as a way of advancing peace in the region. He added if the United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 was implemented, the peace process will progress. Qian also said that his 10-day tour in the region was aimed at asserting China's interest in the Arab-Israeli peace process and an expression of the high concern of the international community over the present stalemate. Qian added the peace process was currently facing artificial obstacles and everybody in France, the US, China, Russia and the UN hoped for breaking this deadlock. The Chinese Foreign Minister said his talks in Beirut focused on boosting bilateral relations especially trade exchanges and tackled the trade balance between the two countries. Qian added China which exports 200 million dollars worth of products to Lebanon each year wanted to encourage

Chinese enterprises and businessmen to participate in Lebanon's reconstruction drive. He then held talks with House speaker Nabih Berri and later had lunch with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The Chinese foreign minister will meet President Elias Al-Hrawi tonight at Baabda.

Chinese-relations have been revived through intensive diplomatic contact and a series of economic arrangements and visits to Beijing by Bowie in 1993 and Hariri in 1995. Qian who is in Lebanon for a 48-hour visit is on a tour of the region that will also take him to Syria, Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Qian will explore ways of promoting the Middle East peace process which has been deadlocked since mid-March.

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