News from Beirut May 7 1997 ...Search


Syrian president Hafez Assad received today in Damascus Lebanon's house speaker Nabih Berri. Radio news said they discussed the regional developments, the situation in south Lebanon, and horizons of the M.E peace process. The meeting came 24 hours after talks in Damascus between Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and Syrian V.P Abdel Halim Khaddam. Both officials returned back today to Lebanon.

South Lebanon Situation

Tension in south Lebanon continues to prevail following Nabatieh blast explosions on May 5th . News reports said Israeli artillery shelled areas in Nabatieh region and Iqlim Toffah. Israeli warplanes raided today at 2.00 p.m. Iqlim Toffah region. Islamic resistance said its men carried an attack against SLA post at Qantara. SLA claimed one resistance man killed in an

operation inside the occupied security zone. Hizbullah denied the report and said it always announce its martyrs and does not hide them. The 5 nation cease-fire monitoring committee held a meeting today at Naqoura to discuss an Israeli complaint against resistance operation which they claimed targeted civilians inside the security zone.

Prime Minister views

Prime minister Hariri, speaking today to the Lebanese Journalists Association in Beirut, centered on the predominant issues including the postponed municipal elections, the Constitutional Council, and the extension of the parliament term. He asserted that holding the municipal elections at the present situation was a mistake he personally took the burden of averting it, because its results would have been in favor of Muslims and against the Christians. On the Constitutional Council, he said no one can be assertive that there were pressures on the council, and perhaps the council harmed itself by leaks to the press and resignation of its head. He denied that extending the parliament term is designed as a prelude to further extensions for institutions, sectors, or persons. He outlined that there were attempts to show civil institutions, including the president, prime minister, speaker, the judiciary, and the public administration, incapable and uncredible trying to marginalize them. On economy, he said despite all the circumstances the balance of payments marked a surplus of $540mn in the first quarter compared to only $30mn same period last year.


-Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati held talks today with prime minister Hariri. He said he extended invitation to Mr. Hariri to visit Tehran at the earliest before June, also extended another invitation to him to attend the Organization of Islamic States OIC summit going to be held in Tehran. Velayati said he hopes to reactivate the Lebanese Iranian economic joint commission.

Pope's Visit- Preparations

-Preparations for the visit of his pontiff gaining maximum momentum. The Maronite Bishops Council at a meeting held today at Bkerke under patriarch Sfair reviewed the measures and arrangements, reiterated its call to believers and all other Lebanese to share in welcoming his pontiff. The council hoped the visit to take place at best circumstances.

-Governor of Mount Lebanon Mohamed Yamout checked the preparations underway by municipalities within the proximity of Beirut airport and Baabda including Ghobeiri, Furn Chebback, Baabda and elsewhere.

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