News from Beirut June 6  1997 ...Search

Syrian Officials Visit, Regional Developments and Local Conciliation

Five or seven months of political bickering, harsh campaigns, and unabated boycott between Lebanon's president and speaker is said to be at an end thanks to the visit of Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam and foreign minister Farouk Sharaa. The visit originally was one of the stations of  Syrian officials Arab tour. It aimed to brief Lebanon's officials on the outcome of the Syrian officials Arab tour. The tour aimed to counter the Turkish Israeli alliance, see to an Arab economical cartel, and avert convening of a M.E.  economical conference in Doha -Qatar. The local aspect of the visit was a preoccupation of the Lebanese since their two top officials at last hopefully conciled at a dinner at Baabda palace which topped the day long visit. Photos show the Lebanese president, prime minister, speaker, and the close ministers of interior, foreign affairs, and agriculture sitting altogether joyfully with the Syrian guests. President Hrawi and speaker Berri said to have met in private before the dinner and exchanged frank remarks. Prime minister Hariri refused overnight to give the visit the aspect of conciliation, saying it was in the framework of the Arab tour which is relevant to regional developments. News reports said the local aspect could have overshadowed the regional aspect of the visit and what's between Hrawi and Berri is far beyond words of courtesy and protocol, however, its up to the coming days to clear how much the conciliation ground is solid.

Mr. Abdel Halim Khaddam, responding to reporters, said the problem with Turkey should not be treated in severing diplomatic relations, but "we should seek channels of dialogue with Turkey to persuade it that real and serious relation is with the Arab side not the Israeli one". He denied any political backgrounds of the trade delegations movements between Syria and Iraq saying "it is aimed to lessen the suffering of the Iraqi people". The Syrian vice president said the Arab response to the delegation's concepts was very positive, and said he can say that the Arab joint action now is at a good and comfortable stage. On Doha economical conference, he said holding such summit contradicts with year ago Cairo Arab summit resolutions. He said an Arab summit is under discussion, but as for the economical cartel, Syria and Egypt agreed to submit a joint paper which will be placed over the Damascus Declaration foreign minister's meeting which will be held 25th June. "If the paper is endorsed it will be placed over other Arab countries, and an objective logical course of events might lead to an Arab economical summit", Khaddam said. He said the Turkish campaigns from one time to another are a result of its internal situation. He said the Turkish government is one side and other authorities in Turkey are on the other side. Khaddam said Turkey has nothing to prove or confirm any assistance goes from Syria to the Kurdish PKK. he questioned what is Syria's interest of any state of worry for the Turks in Turkey. He said it is impossible that Syria encourages any action against any country, Arab or else.

Mr. Khaddam response to a question on Syrian Christian dialogue was given local significance in Beirut. He said "Syria wish to have good relations with all civic and religious authorities in Lebanon", and "some people come and go conveying good words and listen to good words too", but the question is what's on the dialogue takes place. He said any issue that relates to Lebanon or Syria is between the two countries not between civic and religious authorities. He said Syria deals with the Lebanese state, which Syria considers it has made enormous achievements and returned Lebanon back to security and stability, also returned the smile to the Lebanese and enabled them to look for the future and regain their ambition. News reports said with such remark Mr. Khaddam has put an end to the speculated Christian Syrian dialogue, precisely between Damascus and Bkerke.

Lebanon-Israel, Cease-fire Monitoring Committee To Convene Sunday

The monitoring panel is to hold a meeting Sunday at 11.00 a.m at Naqoura to examine two complaints submitted by Lebanon and Israel. The Lebanese complaint which was submitted Wednesday was on the four blasts that exploded on Qilya-Zillaya main road in west Bekaa where one Lebanese civilian killed and two others wounded. Israel said its complaint was on a blast explosion at Toumat Niha in Jezzine where a Lebanese civilian killed.

Israel's representative at the panel said the major achievement of the committee was placing civilians on both sides of the border out of the military operations cycle . The Israeli representative said the ceasefire committee has discussed 30 complaint in the past 10 months, including 17 presented by Lebanon, and 13 by Israel.

- 33 Lebanese citizen visited yesterday the Israeli concentration camp at Khiam under the supervision of the ICRC and could visit 10 Lebanese detainees.

- Lebanese army chief of staff checked the army units of the 9th brigade stationed at the frontline posts in south Lebanon. He also  visited the command post in Tyre.

- SLA radio station said the Israeli civil administration in the security zone opened a commercial complex in the town of Meis el Jabal in the western sector of the zone.

- The UN general assembly budget and administration committee discussed yesterday a draft resolution submitted by China and Tanzania, on behalf of the 77 developed state members, demanding Israel to pay the sum of $1.7mn to compensate damages incurred by Israel's shelling of the UNIFIL campus in Qana last year where some 100 civilian were killed while taking shelter in the campus. The resolution needs further discussion before its placed on the G.A. The compensation is for damages of the UN properties, and for the transfer of a UNIFIL Fiji battalion which was stationed in Qana. The committee report recommends allocation of a special amount to the UNIFIL budget for the period from July 1.1997 until June 30. 1998. The UN S.G had proposed a $122mn budget for the UNIFIL for the same period.

GLC Abu Rizk Case

Observers in Beirut expect Elias abu Rizk release within days time due to two pressing factors including his health situation and the mounting local and external pressures which regard the arrest as a breach of the syndical and political freedoms. The World Labour Organisation recognition of either one of the two rival GLC factions is still vague and inconclusive. The WLO dispatched one of its regional office official to Beirut to meet Lebanese officials and Abu Rizk before reporting the organisation. Amnesty international called for his immediate release and consider it "a prisoner of thought that was detained for his peaceful action as a labour leader". The local follow up committee of the Coral Beach meeting called for demonstrations and strikes but without fixing a date. Prime minister Hariri who was preoccupied during day hours with the visit of the Syrian officials, made contacts overnight contacts to inquire the updated developments of the case. He reiterated that the case is judicial and his government will not intervene. Abu Rizk and other colleagues of the GLC were under further investigations by the judiciary, but the release of Yasser Neemeh Wednesday overnight, and dropping the charge of circulating false news against government, was regarded a positive indicator, because Abu Rizk is now charged only for claiming a post title and power.

News In Brief

- Parliament delegation including MPs Nassib Lahoud and M.Beydoun accompanied by parliament administrative senior staff are due to leave to the USA to examine method of work at the USA legislatures .

- US ambassador Richard Jones met early yesterday at 7.30 a.m prime minister Rafic Hariri before the arrival of the Syrian delegation. Ambassador Jones said there was nothing particular but it was part of the frequent consultations. He denied he conveyed any message from his administration to the prime minister.

- The newly founded "housing general institution" is to go ahead in four months if enough resources and funding is provided. The parliamentary housing and displaced committee reviewed the policy of the institution and proposed ceiling of the housing loan to rise up from $20 thousand to $30 thousand. Some MPs stated that 80 per cent of the housing loans by the former housing fund were allocated to Beirut and mount Lebanon with only 20 per cent to other regions. The institution is to adopt applications numbers order not mediations and favoritism as it was stated.

- Displaced minister Walid Jumblat issued a circular stating evicting of all the occupants of houses and land property in the Chuf village Kfarnabrakh and be handed to its original owners not later than 29th June. The displaced fund is to pay compensation for the evicting and reparation "after some funds are now available at the displaced fund".

- Lebanese interior ministry started the supply of necessary items for the provisional by elections in north Lebanon. The by elections polling centres in north total 1347 and the recent election card can be used for voting additional to identity and civil status Ikhraj Kaid. The poll in north is for one maronite and one sunni seat. Robert Ghanem is among the 9th candidates who are going to run for the four vacant seats.

- UTV is the new T.V station that is going to start broadcasting as of end of next week. The UTV was a merger of 12 T.V station with a L.L30bn capital. The merged stations included CVN, Kilikia, Al Mashrek, Antenne Plus, Elissar, Tele Beirut, TV Zahle, Baalbek Television, TV 2000, Hermel TV, Bekaa TV, and the IBC.

- Kataeb opposition demand government to take lesson from the French elections which led to root and fundamental change of the balance of powers, and considered people the real source of all powers. The opposition said as much the electorate become smaller the poll result would be more expressive of the voters will and wish, and for that the group rejected  Lebanon one electorate proposal.

- 500 person including 50 child were amongst the fourth batch of evacuees from Sierraleone via Konakri and on board of MEA Jumbo 747 who arrived 1.30 LT to Beirut airport. The MEA Jumbo arrived late with 8 hours delay because Konakri airport claimed its not possible to supply fuel and the plane was obliged to go first to Dakar Senegal to be supplied. The arriving evacuees told officials here upon their arrival not to forget the rest of the Lebanese who are still in siege in Freetown. Emigrants minister Talal Arsalan, who was on the airport to receive them, said his ministry is confident that the Lebanese out of Freetown are safe.

- Ghassan Tueini, in a lecture in French at one of the French senate council and upon an invitation from the French Lebanese Friendship Association, called for a new pact for reconstruction, environment, and heritage.

- The "Revolt of the Starved" preparatory committee under Sheikh Subhi Tufeili, in an apparent reaction to president Hrawi remark, said "who is threatening the citizen's security is not who protect them but are who starve them". The committee said the revolt does not believe in using weapons but it has civilized and civilian methods to obtain people's rights. It said on the 4th of July, the world will see who maintains peace, security, and rights of the starved. It also said the revolt is a calm move and a step in the framework of confronting the USA scheme that aims to starve the Lebanese people.

- Bekaa internal security forces commander Brig. Hassan Hallak warned the mayors of Bekaa of the resumption of hashish cultivations, after reports saying people in the upper rural areas of Hermel and north Bekaa resumed plantations. The ISF regional commander of Bekaa told the mayors to tell the people in the area that such cultivations are prohibited. News reports said the Hash seeds are normally planted in April and collected mid Sept, something indicate that the plantations, if true, are too small so far.

- Five people wounded in a clash in the village of Nabha in Bekaa including an ISF officer.  News reports gave conflicting stories over the incident. some reports said the ISF force was chasing a wanted person and was engaged in a fight with the village residents.

- Sheikh Subhi Tufeili profile as published today by a leading daily said the man is around 50 years old. It said he was Hizbullah first ever secretary general for a period of three years, and by the time after his outgoing and replacement by sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and late Abbas Mussawi, became an independent religious-intellectual phenomenon. Tufeili was close to Iran radical figure Sayed Mohtashami who was once an interior minister and who directly was supervising Hizbullah build up. Tufeili departed Hizbullah one year after the Taif accord was concluded and after all militias were disbanded, since then a state of divorce with Hizbullah was observed. The conclusion of the leading daily is that Hizbullah maintain a neutral stand toward the "Revolt of the Starved' while the support of Tufeili is growing bigger. Tufeili assured that his move does not contradict with the Syrian brothers as he said, since its not against them. He went on saying "if the situation remains as it is the Syrians will be blamed for the living conditions".

- Another outcry from the occupied security zone women delegation representing Hasbaya-Merjeuoun people. The delegation in a memo to MP Anwar el Khalil questioned "if their government want them to work in Israel labour market, after all doors are closed before them". The delegation stated the very hard living conditions there and lack of jobs for the youths. They argued why the central government restrict development loans for the security zone people.

- Burj Hammoud residents and Armenian MPs staged a one hour alarming strike yesterday in the area in protest of the Burj Hammoud dump which is not anymore tolerable. The call was by the Tashnak party and all shops closed its doors at a time crowds gathered in the square with MPs and media reporters. MP Khatchik Babikian addressed the crowd saying residents of the area exercised patience after the government promises to close the dump by end of May, but it is now June and nothing was done. He said further steps will be taken. Former environment minister Hagob JoKhadarian said the present environment minister attributed  delay of two incinerators at Amrousieh and Quarantina to the CDR. He said judging on the present minister's statement the Amrousieh resident will stage strike to prevent the incinerator from working, and if it won't operate the Burj Hammoud dump will remain as before. Khadarian said "if the Amrousieh residents demonstrate we shall do the same".

Sports Round Up

- Kuwait is the fifth country after Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Korea, qualified for the second tour in the Asian football liquidation for the world cup 16 which will be hosted in France from June 10 to July 12 1998. Kuwait defeated Singapore 4-0 yesterday in Kuwait city and won the championship of the group 7.  Kuwait raised up its credit to 9 points in three games. Its coming game with Lebanon on 22nd June in Beirut will have no effect on its going to the second tour. The Lebanese team, in case of winning the game, will only increase its credit to 7 points.

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