News from Beirut March 4  1997  .......Search

Lebanon-Japan, Red Army Case

Japanese high ranking envoy Hiroshi Hirabayashi held on Monday talks in Beirut with president Elias Hrawi, prime minister Rafic Hariri, foreign minister Fares Boueiz, and the general prosecutor Adnan Addoum. He handed the Lebanese senior officials a message from Japan's prime minister, asking to deal with suspects , if prove to be members of the Red Army, on the crimes they had committed against the international society.

In a further significant step, he is scheduled to leave today to Damascus, where he is seeking to have a meeting with P.Assad. So far, he is scheduled to meet Syrian V.P Abdel Halim Khaddam and foreign minister Farouk Sharaa. He will discuss in Damascus the bilateral relations, the peace process and perhaps the case of the detainees in Beirut.

It is the first reference by a Japanese official to a Syrian role in the case. Lebanon judiciary is expected today to announce the final stand regarding the Asian detainees, particularly the Japanese, signalling that the judiciary is now in charge of the case not else. According to media news, Lebanon will not hand over the detainees to the Japanese authorities, whatever their charge are, because Lebanon and Japan did not conclude an agreement on extradition.

Furthermore, Lebanon will not allow the Japanese envoys to meet the detainees who shall stand for trial in Lebanon under Lebanese laws, after their charges been cleared and stated.

Consequently, Lebanon won't respond to a Japanese request to put to trial who prove to be members of the Red Army, on crimes committed in the past, because the crimes were not on it's territory. The detainees are likely to be put to trial for charges of fake passports, illegal entry, and not having valid residence permits. The Japanese security team asked additional 24 hours to confirm the identity of the detainees, after checking their fingerprints, passports, and other clues provided by Lebanon's state prosecutor.

Coincidentally, Addoum's meeting with the Japanese security team came on time he was preparing to receive an American delegation including technical judicial police experts. Addoum and the US delegation denied any connection with the Asian detainees' case. Other information said the Red Army case had been raised in past time by both the Japanese and Americans, who handed Lebanon a complete file on the case.

Prime minister Rafic Hariri yesterday said it is natural that the detainees stand on trial in Lebanon, recalling that the Red Army member Kozo Okamoto, who attacked the Lod airport, had been put to trial in Israel, which did not hand him to anybody, furthermore, Israel itself swapped him with Palestinian prisoners. Hariri circles said it is premature to assess the impact of the case on Lebanon's relation with Japan, but it expressed concern of the impact on the role of Japan in the Friends of Lebanon forum.

Some media reports now centre on the issue of the Lebanese state security agency, questioning if the agency will be dissolved, after it came under critics and attacks by many politicians. The agency is charged of causing embarrassment to both Lebanon and Syria, after it arrested the suspects, leaking the news to Japan which diplomatically campaigned to seek their extradition.

Cardinal Sfair-Brazil

Cardinal Sfair's 45 minute meeting with the president of Brazil at the presidential palace in Brasilia yesterday was warm. Topics of discussion covered the Lebanese emigrants affairs and the bilateral relation between the two people. Brazil's president hailed the active Lebanese community in his country and their contribution to Brazil's progress in all fields. He said the Lebanese community is great and Brazil is proud of it saying he is expecting to visit Lebanon.

The Cardinal had earlier in the day met the foreign minister who hosted him at a launch in honour of the cardinal. Cardinal Sfair is to leave Brasilia ,his official station, today and go to Bella Orizonti, the third stop in his current visit to Brazil.

South Lebanon

The 5 nations ceasefire monitoring committee meeting yesterday continued until late evening hours. The committee's meeting was held to see to an Israeli complaint accusing the resistance fighters of attacking it's forces from inhabited areas in Nabatieh area on Friday. So far, no statement has been issued yet. The Lebanese delegation to the meeting will put down the complaint, by providing the proof that the resistance attack was not a violation to the April's understanding. The delegation will emphasise that the Israeli fatalities on Friday took place inside their posts in the occupied security zone, and the resistance attack is justified as it aim against an occupant force, and from 1500 meters away from residential area.

The Hizbullah official in south Lebanon Sheikh Nabil Qawooq yesterday said his party is observing what goes on the battle ground and in the monitoring committee meeting. He criticised Lebanon's government for not presenting a complaint against the Israeli shelling of the Nabatieh area last week. He said that the enemy is trying to get out of the impasse of it's occupation by waging fires in Lebanon. He said the resistance will try on it's side to mount up the conflict inside Israel, by staging painful strikes against it's forces, in order to cause more panic and confusion.

He said the international community failed to provide protection of the civilians in South Lebanon, and Israel is attempting now to torpedo the framework of the April's understanding in order to release itself of it's restrictions. He vowed that if the enemy continues targeting the civilians, the time when resistance will retaliate the aggressions is nearing more and more.

Two SLA men wounded yesterday in an explosive blast at the main road of  Saydoun in the Jezzine area. One man is reported seriously wounded. Meanwhile, mortar fire was reported at the same area, and the SLA retaliated shelling opposite post. The Islamic resistance claimed responsibility of the mortar fires and the attack at Saydoun. Security reports said Israeli and SLA artillery batteries opened fire at various posts in the Nabatieh area. The Islamic resistance mourned the martyr Fadl Suweidan who was killed March 2 in a Jihad operation.

News report today said the Israeli backed militia SLA would pull back from the Kfarfalous village to Roum, both in Jezzine area. A step comes later to it's earlier pull back from the village of Bisri. The pull back from those villages would leave a security vacuum, and could be regarded as a testing pull back, in prior of a large one, from the whole Jezzine area.

Senator George Mitchell Visit

At a press conference he has held at the Bustan Hotel, it was clear that the visit of the group was not for merely meeting, but furthermore to convey to the US administration, particularly to Mrs Albright, a clear view on Lebanon's present situation.

Mitchell said they will convey what they see and hear. He specified saying "one of the group's members will meet Mrs Albright next week to convey to her verbally and in writing their observations on Lebanon". He said he "hopes it will result in lifting the embargo".

News here said Mr Mitchell has the capacity of adviser to P.Clinton and he would report to him about the situation in Lebanon .

News In Brief

- President Elias Hrawi received the newly appointed ambassador to the USA Mohammed Shatah and gave him the necessary instructions before departing Beirut to assume his post. He also received the environment minister who discussed the issue of the exclusive location of quarries in Lebanon.

-Speaker Nabih Berri began talks in Kuwait, starting with his counterpart. Today he will be received by ruler of Kuwait.

-Parliament joint committees yesterday discussed a proposal aims to establish a special association for the interior designers in Lebanon, or otherwise to join the present engineers association. The parliament committees were in favor of establishing a special association for the interior designers counting more than 4,000 in Lebanon.

As to the case of the repatriation of the displaced, the committees were briefed by the displaced fund's deputy director Abdel Hamid Nasser on the repatriation plan for 1997. Nasser said that allocations for this year is L.L 64 bn, which is only enough to fund 10 percent of the plan.

The head of the housing and displaced committee deputy Talal Merebi said some L.L 500 bn are needed to fund this year's programme, additional to the L.L64 bn allocations, and the committee will consult with prime minister over ways to fund the plan, either by creating new financial resources or any other mean.

- Syrian president Hafez Assad dispatched to Beirut yesterday a special envoy to check the health situation of the Egyptian singer Sayyed Mikkawi, who is hospitalised in Beirut since two weeks. The envoy, director general of the Syrian radio and television commission Haidar Yaziji, conveyed to Mikkawi president Assad's sincere wishes of immediate recovery. Mikkaw has been admitted to the AUB hospital in Beirut, the intensive care unit, feeling heart failure.

-European envoy Van Borg, who is also the Dutch ambassador in Rome, briefed  prime minister Hariri and foreign minister Boueiz on the preparations underway to hold the Barcelona-2 conference on european -Mediterranean dialogue. The conference will be held in Malte on 15-16th April.

-South Africa's envoy discussed with foreign minister Fares Boueiz the bilateral relations and the possibility to open an embassy in Beirut. The envoy Mickel Furgeson declared that with 30 thousand Lebanese descent in his country, he is looking to enhance bilateral relations, noting that South Africa has 90 diplomatic mission abroad, while 130 mission are stationed in Pretoria, and his country should regulate that shortage of missions.

- Former prime minister Selim Hoss questioned the government the reasons behind the too many pardons granted in the past two years. He argued whether such pardons serve the issues of security and justice in the country. Hoss also questioned that those pardons, granted short while after the judiciary issued it's sentences, discredit the judiciary and consequently depressing the judges who made the sentences.

-Kataeb president George saadeh urged the party members to obtain the voters identification cards as a necessary pre step for the coming election.

-Douri Chamoun yesterday left Washington to Paris after a week long meetings with administration's officials and congressmen. He held talks with the secretary of state's assistant David Hill. Chamoun is to stay for a week in Paris where he will meet gen. Michel Aoun, Amin Gemayel and Raymond Edde.

- The Druze foundation Al Irfan welcomed the visit of Pope John Paul II wishing it will have positive outcomes toward national coexistence, and enhancing the national unity. According to political sources in Beirut, the issue of the Druze religious post Sheikh el Akel would be settled by mid May prior to the Pope's visit.

- Minister of agriculture Shawki Fakhoury, a Greek Orthodox, yesterday said that discharging the governor of Beirut from his authority in favor of the head of the municipal council, would deprive the Greek Orthodox community it's most important senior administrative post.

- US ambassador Richard Jones and minister of agriculture Shawki Fakhoury yesterday signed initially a loan agreement extended by the USA to fund purchase of 3000 dairy cattle which will be distributed on small farmers allover Lebanon.

- Banks deposits in one week from 14th to 20th Feb marked the increase of deposits in Lira by L.L123bn and the Dollar deposits by $20mn, central bank said.

- Following a government planning scheme to relocate Lebanon quarries, including quarries in the Iqlim Kharroub region, residents of the region warn to stage a strike protesting turning their area into a dump. The residents warned they will go down and close the coastal highway. A cement factory at Sibline, quarries which will be located now, and an industrial zone that began to take place in the Kharroub area, prompted anger of the residents who are aware of environmental and health problems.

- First lady Mona Hrawi said at a seminar on vocational and technical training that the government current plan is to rise up to 50 percent the average of secondary students who enroll in vocational and technical education. Minister of technical and vocational education said the plan is to build and equip 32 more schools, additional to the existing 32. He said loan agreements totalling $100mn already signed with the Islamic bank and the Arab fund for social and economical development to fund the plan.


- Nejmeh and Homentmen are to play today at Burj Hammoud stadium. Al Ansar is to play tomorrow at the same stadium.

-The Lebanon's basketball cup:

Ihyaa Riyada defeated Shabab Ghobeiri with 99-80. Michel Sfair of the Ihyaa Riyada scored 29 points, while Red Kablawi scored 21 points to the Ghobeiri team. The Riyadi-Beirut easily won against Mont La Salle with 103-77. The Antranik won against Kahraba-Zouk with 72-61.

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