News from Beirut July 23 1997 ...Search

Lebanon Ideas Forum; Budget Deficit and Public Debt .

-Lebanon's first ever economical ideas forum which was held starting Monday at Coral Beach hotel in Beirut under premier Hariri involving six cabinet members ended today. The forum is said to have paved the ground for treatment of the socio-economical problems. On the second day, there were little hope of dealing with the country's budget deficit and public debt cycle. Treating the deficit won't be easy without high costly burdens on the tax payers under a current hard situation. The financial problems of the country seen complicated. The new scales of salary and rank seen unfeasible as it depend on resources and financing.

Jezzine-Kfar Falous, Reopening Crossing and Pull Back.

-Reopening Jezzine-Sidon short way link at Kfar Falous has once again dominated front pages though Lebanon's officials have no solid guarantees on the possible reopening of the crossing at an early time or before the army day on first August. US ambassador Richard Jones who recently returned from a holiday in the US reiterated Tuesday that reopening the crossing is a positive move that is supported by US. Jones, during a meeting with house speaker Nabih Berri raised the question "What if the SLA commander Antoine Lahd pull out from Jezzine and its neighborhood". The speaker answered him saying the Lebanese army is ready to take over any outpost evicted by the Israelis or the SLA and no strife or problem will take place as a result.

-Special sources in south Lebanon said the SLA commander and his command officers were in disagreement amid series of meetings they held recently to evaluate the current situation in Jezzine and the Lebanese government's decision to reopen Kfar falous crossing. Lahd has shown flexibility on the reopening after his return from France. He was hopeful to boost his position that perhaps would help him to directly negotiate the Lebanese government over a preliminary pull back from Jezzine to Kfarhoune outlet, afterwhich the Lebanese army replace the SLA there as a testing move on the implementation of "Jezzine First". The idea crystalised during Lahd visit to Paris where earlier Israel's defense minister suggested a multi national force with a bulk French force to take over from the Israeli occupants. Command officers of the SLA Lahd categorically rejected the idea of the pull back and reopening the crossing too. The officers said the idea is vague, while the Israel did not give a final say yet. Lahd claimed he cannot go on keeping Jezzine under his control since it is posed constantly to military attacks, with more bloodshed of people who start to see that the SLA presence there is the reason of such attacks. Lahd demanded that either the SLA pull out of Jezzine after negotiating with the Lebanese government, something the latter rejected keeping the crossing's reopening pending, or Israel lend him full backing to stay in Jezzine. Israel did not answer back Lahd's demand, and if its yes, it means the security zone in south Lebanon will expand, recalled that the Israeli occupation at present stands at Kfarhoune outlet, while Jezzine and its suburb is under the SLA control. The special sources said under such situation, the SLA senior officers who reside at Jezzine started to move into places deep inside the security zone which is more safe from them in case the pull back took place in sudden. If Lahd continues to stick to his stand the Kfar Falous crossing would reopen before end of the month. Further information said The SLA units already retreated back from Kfar Falous and Sfaray and redeployed at Anan where a checkpoint will be set up. The Lebanese army will man a checkpoint located at the western outlet of Kfar falous. The 3 km pull back has been enforced five months ago but this time it was officially conveyed to the concerned authority through special channel. Under this final retreat, Hariri's university, hospital and attached buildings at Kfar Falous, the S.O.S children village and police station at Sfaray are becoming out of the SLA militia's control. The Hariri compound there would be repaired and 200 technician, engineer and labor will join the Kfar Falous administration that Hariri has established before 1985 to repair damages. The news said that an SLA new unit has been dispatched to Jezzine to take over security and the crossing of Anan, after very few Jezzine people continue to serve in the SLA and the people there refused their sons to join the militia and most of them left the region.

-The Islamic resistance attacked SLA two outposts at Tair Farfa and Zimraya causing a blaze in an oil reservoir.

-A Lebanese army communiqué today said the SLA continued shelling its force working to clear the crossing's area from land mines.

-Jezzine notables and activists after a meeting today said the situation at the ground field is contradicting with the given dates of reopening the crossing of Kfar Falous that the officials announced earlier.

US Travel Ban; Imminent Decision

-US secretary of state Madeleine Albright is expected to announce today a decision on the US travel ban to Lebanon while on her way from California to Malaysia and Singapore after being well informed on the issue exhausting all her contacts and consultations.

Government Meeting Today

-The government at today's meeting discussed 34 items on the agenda. On the audio-visual media stations three first grade radios including Voice of the People, Voice of the Lebanon, and Voice of Tomorrow were licensed, four radio stations of second grade were licensed too, and the Hizbullah T.V station Al Manar and its radio station Al Nour should complete their file in order to have license. The government did not take a decision on the government prior censorship of political programs on satellite waiting for the ruling of the Shura Council. The custom duties on imported cars were clarified but not reviewed according to the finance minister. The impasse of the garbage in Beirut and its suburbs which find no place to go is still pending. The government did not fix another location to the piles of garbage that are accumulating now, after Bourj Hammoud dump was closed, and after Amrousieh people rejected their area to be this location. On the economical ideas forum, another forum will be held on 18th and 19th August to discuss the social policy. The government appointed Yasser Berri as deputy president of the Council of Development and Reconstruction CDR.


-Prime minister Hariri is to leave tomorrow to Athens in an official visit aimed to enhance bilateral cooperation and urge more EU peace role .

-Patriarch Sfair denounced the incursion of the Maronite church in Sydney and asked the Australian authority to reveal the culprits. The patriarch said if the displaced do not return back the country's demographical segregation will aggravate and the country will remain disintegrated. He said he would visit mount of Lebanon's region when the return of displaced is accomplished. The displaced ministry table published today said L.L37bn have been paid this year for evictions and reparations, and 27 per cent of the displaced returned back to their villages in three regions.

-Former Algerian president Ahmad bin Bella said he smelled in Qana in south Lebanon the smell of the early days of the Algerian revolution. He said some of Algeria's security agencies are involved in the violence and the solution is through dialogue with the salvation front and release of detainees.

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili said the people of Baalbek will not benefit from the festival in their town and what they will have is merely noises and traffic jam.

-Palestinians at Bared camp in north Lebanon continued their sit in protest against UNRWA decline of services.

The Eighth Pan Arab Sports Games

-List of medals after the 10th day games

State----------- gold-------- silver --------- bronze --------- total

Egypt ---------- 65 ---------- 29 ------------ 21 ------------ 115

Algeria --------- 27 ---------- 31 -----------  31 ------------  89

Morocco ------- 12 --------- 12 ------------- 7 ------------- 31

Qatar ----------- 8 ----------- 5 ------------- 3 -------------  16

Tunisia ---------  7 ------------ 6 ------------ 14 ------------- 27

Saudia ---------  6 ------------ 7 ------------- 16 ------------ 29

Syria ----------- 5 ------------ 22 ------------ 27 ------------ 54

Jordan ---------- 4 ------------ 4 ------------ 11 ------------ 19

Lebanon -------- 2 ----------- 13  -----------  29 ------------ 44

Kuwait  --------- 1 -----------  7 ------------- 11 ------------ 19

Oman ----------- 1 ----------- 1 -------------- 1 ------------- 3

Sudan ------------------------- 1 -------------- 2 -------------3

Palestine --------------------------------------- 3 ------------- 3

Bahrain - -------------------------------------- 1 ------------- 1

Total ----------138 ---------- 138 ----------- 177 ----------  453

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