News from Beirut June 17 1997 ...Search


-Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammed, officially visiting Lebanon for three days, began official talks today at the government house in Sanayeh, with prime minister Hariri first, before they were joined by other ministers. He visited Beirut's reconstruction site . Later, he visited the house speaker Nabih Berri, before going to Sidon where he was hosted at a launch by Sidon MP Bahiya Hariri. Lebanon's prime minister Rafic Hariri, an admirer of Malaysia's policies, which elevated the country to the first leading economic power in east Asia, said he wants Malaysian businessmen to come and invest in the hotel sector and establish joint industrial projects with Lebanese businessmen. Hariri briefed president Hrawi at Baabda palace on the talks with the visiting Malaysian official.

-At a welcoming banquet at the City Exhibition Center in downtown Beirut Martyr's Square last night, Hariri said "Malaysia has attained the highest level of international competitiveness in trade, industry, and services since Mahathir took office in 1981. Mahathir, the first ever Malaysian prime minister to visit Lebanon, was equally gracious. He congratulated Hariri for his strong leadership and pursuit towards reconstructing Lebanon. He confessed that he was unsure how Malaysia can help the reconstruction process. He said he hopes that the accompanying businessmen could have the chance to participate in bringing Lebanon to its former status as the primary business center in western Asia.

He said the private sector experience in Malaysia was a success, calling for its cooperation with the public sector. He said his country's policy is based on the principle of "poor neighbors can be trouble makers and rich ones are good trade partners". He called western Asia's countries to adopt that concept. Mahathir is accompanied by his wife and a 100 strong official and businessmen delegation.

-Mahathir denounced Israel's approach to the M.E. peace, he said "Any country that forcibly take over land belonging to others, destroying other people's dwellings in order to erect its own settlements cannot be considered to be sincere in wanting peace". He said Israel should learn rejecting violence as solution of its security problems, and that violence is not a solution but good neighborhood and honesty are the one.

-Lebanese and Malaysian foreign ministers discussed the opening of embassies in Beirut and Kuala Lumpur. Lebanon's foreign minister Fares Boueiz said there is a Malaysian plan to seal an agreement between the two countries' central banks to cooperate with accounts settlements operations. Number of agreements on encouraging investments and avoiding double taxation will be signed during the visit.

-Prime minister Hariri, in an interview with Malaysian daily, said Lebanon will be totally different than now in the year 2000. He revealed that American banks  will start to operate in Beirut, together with French and German international banks and others.

-State minister for finance Fouad Seniora, in a paper on the Malaysian experience amid the visit of Hariri in 1995, said the success of Malaysia was due to privatization, limiting the role of the public sector, reduction of the public civil servants, enhance growth, and curbing inflation.

-Lebanon's media today portrayed Malaysia as "the country of big projects", which its economical rise wiped out unemployment. The media said unemployment average in Malaysia is barely 3 per cent, recalled that it had opened its border to around 1 million foreign labor. Malaysia's profile said 200 French company established branches there, with around 10,000 job vacancy. It said Malaysia is racing with Thailand on the leading rank in south east Asia. Lebanon's imports from Malaysia in 1995 stood at $44mn, and Lebanese nationals can visit Malaysia without obtaining entry visa.

Roger Tamraz Case, Released In Georgia

-Roger Tamraz, the fugitive businessman who is wanted by Lebanon, has been released by the former Soviet Georgian authority , after three days in detention, and before Lebanon's request to extradite him was delivered. Lebanon's state prosecutor Adnan Addoum was optimistic yesterday that the man would be extradited by Lebanon. The Americans have told the Georgian authority that Tamraz is not charged of any crime in the USA, something gave Lebanon the hope that the extradition by Lebanon is feasible. Lebanon was too hopeful that the obstacle of nonexistent extradition agreement with Georgia can be resolved. Prosecutor Adnan Addoum has told Georgian authority that Lebanon is rapidly preparing the extradition file, and requested Georgia to keep Tamraz under detention. The legal procedure is that detention can be only for 72 hours for those wanted according to an international arrest warrant. Today's noon is the time limit of the detention period. Earlier to the release, Al Mashrek Bank's lawyer Nasser el Khalil said the Lebanese documents which condemn Tamraz assured that he is the biggest ever financial criminal in the history of Lebanon. Khalil said if the extradition was successful, the investigation of Tamraz will reveal details of the biggest financial crime, with the involvement of so many political and financial figures, which have major roles during former president Amin Gemayel's term. He said the extradition will boost Lebanon institutions' image, and will make Tamraz a lesson to all the financial officials in the country. Khalil said the extradition will reveal 80 per cent of the embezzlements in Lebanon which are still vague. He said the file of Tamraz is only 20 per cent of his entire mal practices.

-Fresh report this evening said Lebanon state's prosecutor Adnan Addoum, amid reports that Roger Tamraz has been released in Georgia, assured that Lebanon's judiciary sent the extradition file of Roger Tamraz 10.00 a.m today (local time) after translating the documents. Addoum said he has no confirmed information that Tamraz was released. He said all the contacts on the case are made through the Russian authority. Lebanon and Georgia do not have diplomatic relation yet. News dispatches said Roger Tamraz was definitely released and departed to USA . Addoum assured that the extradition file was sent within the time limit.


-Lebanon's judicial authority was under spotlights yesterday, busy to deal with many cases at one time. Additional to the case of Roger Tamraz, the justice minister asked the state prosecutor to reveal the circulated news, saying that the government decision, to rise custom duties on imported cars, was leaked in advance to people who exploited it. Some News headlines yesterday said hundreds of cars (1,700) were registered days before the decision was taken and the beneficence could save and profit considerable amounts. House speaker Nabih Berri said if the circulated news are true, its a big crime which should be investigated. The car dealers here denied they were tipped off about the custom duties increases.

-State security five agents yesterday claimed at the Japanese Red Army five trial that they learned their identities from newspapers stories the following day of the arrest. Brig. Ali Makki, who was the former head of the state security's security and information department, before he resigned the post, after the arrests were leaked to the Japanese government a few days later, said the arrests were made on a tip-off that a number of Asians in the country were forging passports. The five Japanese Red Army were not charged with offenses related to their membership of the extreme group. The trial was attended by a Japanese human rights group's lawyer Osamu Kawamura. He presented a petition calling the Lebanese government to reject Japan's request to extradite the five after their trial is over. The Japanese lawyer was joined by some 100-strong volunteering defense team. Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty. The petition said in view of the fact of no treaty, the five Japanese Red Army should be allowed to choose where they want to go. The petition said that Kozo Okamoto, the sole survivor of a 1972 attack on the Israeli Lod airport, will face death sentence in Japan. The trial was adjourned until July 7 to hear closing arguments by the public prosecutor and the defense team.

-Today's news said Samir Geagea has been allowed to correspond with his spouse and parents twice a week, upon a request of his defense team.

-State prosecutor Adnan Addoum yesterday asked the public to inform the security forces if they had any information on members of the Kurdish Worker's Party PKK. He said the investigations by security forces failed to locate the PKK rebel Hilal Atac. Atac has threatened the Americans weeks ago at a press conference held in Beirut southern suburbs.

-On the call of sheikh Subhi Tufeili, to declare civil disobedience and a "revolt of the starved", Addoum said the judicial authority will make a move when there is a reason to do. He said "We do not want to act on things before they actually happen".

News in Brief

-Defense minister Mohsen Dalloul suspended arms licenses in the regions of west Bekaa, North, and Byblos, where the provisional by elections will be held on June 29.

-Hizbullah parliamentary bloc yesterday visited president Elias Hrawi. MP Ibrahim Sayed said Baalbeck-Hermel crisis need a big political decision, regardless of any other moves as result of the prevailing situation in the region.

-Former president Amin Gemayel and Gen. Michel Aoun have been called to give their statement on the situation in Lebanon, before the US congress foreign relation committee. The hearing will be held on 25th June. Gemayel said the congress wants to be informed of all the parties views, especially the party that opposes the course of events in Lebanon.

-An Israeli soldier was killed and three others wounded in a roadside bomb attack on Sunday night in the occupied security zone in south Lebanon, News reports confirmed. The Islamic resistance claimed responsibility of the attack that took place near Beit Yahoun. Another roadside bomb yesterday seriously wounded a Lebanese civilian near Jezzine. No one claimed responsibility of the attack.

- Opposition figure former MP Albert Mukheiber yesterday said the continued presence of the Syrian forces in Lebanon will lead to torpedo the national unity and also to the resumption of the strife in the country. Mukheiber was commenting on a remark given earlier by Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam.

-Kataeb party's president George Saadeh argued the private hospitals refuse to receive patients hospitalized on the account of the state and patients of the military establishment and security agencies. He warned the government of ignoring the public social demands. He said the government decision to increase custom duties and bans agriculture produce's imports are in contrast, in purposes and objectives, with the current ongoing spate of embezzlements and financial scandals.

- German ambassador in Lebanon yesterday said that no Lebanese living in Germany will be expelled before the federal republic's courts rule on the legality of their stay. German authorities last year told Lebanon's government that it planned to return a total of up to 22,000 Lebanese, or Palestinians, or Kurds, carrying Lebanese travel documents. Germany wants those nationals to leave now since stability has returned to Lebanon. The German ambassador affirmed that no political motives are behind the decision. He said his government will try to find a humanitarian solution to the issue.

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