President Elias Al-Hrawi and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri this morning headed to Tehran to take part in the summit for the 55-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. Before leaving Beirut this morning, Hrawi and Hariri held talks with Interior minister Michel Al-Murr at Beirut International Airport. Hrawi told reporters the Lebanese delegation might hold side-line meetings with Iranian officials as part of ongoing contacts between the two countries. The three-day summit opens tomorrow in the Iranian capital. The accompanying Lebanese delegation include Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz and high-ranking government officials.
In parliament today, the budget and finance committee today continued discussions on the draft 1998 state budget. The meeting was attended by Acting Finance Minister of State Fouad Sanyoura and Minister of Administrative Reform Bshara Merhej. The budgets of both ministries were discussed in today?s session.
Information minister Bassem Al-Sabaa today received the head of the editors syndicate Melhem Karam. After the meeting, Karam quoted Sabaa as saying he will be obliged to interfere in cases of ethical media violations if any station trespasses the audio-visual media law in this regard. Sabaa held talks yesterday with prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri in the presence of heads of TV stations yesterday in Kreitem. Discussions centered on moral considerations in TV programs.
Sabaa also held talks today with Acting Iranian minister of education and an accompanying Iranian delegation. Talks centered on bilateral ties especially educational and cultural relations.
The American ambassador to Lebanon Richard Jones today described last week's visit to Naqoura as fruitful. This after meeting Deputy House Speaker Eli Ferzli in parliament today. Jones later told reporters he wanted to see the site of a catastrophic event referring to the UN compound where hundreds of civilians taking refuge were slaughtered. Jones added his visit was worth a thousand pictures. Jones had visited Qana last week on his way back from Naqoura.
Under the patronage of prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri, the regional workshop for governance for social development today opened in Beirut. The workshop lasts for three days. It is organized by the United Nations Development program and the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs and held at the Beirut Commodore Hotel. UN resident coordinator in Lebanon Ross Mountain opened today's session welcoming all those who traveled to Beirut to consider the important subject of Governance for Social Development. Mountain said a strategic issue which transcends different aspects of ht reconstruction and development debate in Lebanon relates to globalization, interdependence and equality. The meeting was attended by minister of Administrative reform Bshara Merhej representing the premier and minister of Social Affairs Ayyoub Hmayyed.
At the press syndicate this morning, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees held a press conference explaining the essence of their work in Lebanon. UNHCR provides international protection to those who have fled their countries because of prosecution or war. The commissioner tries to seek solutions to their problems by providing shelter, schooling and medical assistance. The UNHCR sometimes tries to resettle some refugees in a third country due to security reasons. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon form the bigger segment of displaced people. But providing assistance to Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan falls under UNRWA's protection. UNHCR's Lebanon Representative Rafik Al-Saidi said NGO's such as the UN still cannot force governments to respect human rights standards in dealing with its people. On the recommendations of the organization's annual report, Al-Saidi said displacement is on the increase and solutions are on the decrease adding there is a growing tendency to shift the burden to humanitarian agencies to hope for a humanitarian solution when there is a need for a political solution. Al-Saidi called on the international community to assume a greater responsibility in finding solutions to the problem. The meeting was attended by the head of the press syndicate Mohammed Al-Baalbaki, the representative of the UNDP resident coordinator, Christian Le Clerk and some Palestinian, Iraqi and Sudanese refugees in Lebanon.
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