News from Beirut July 31 1997 ...Search

-Lift of US Travel Ban

-The US decision to lift the 10 years old travel ban on Lebanon came at a time the M.E. peace process stalemate is high and at a critical situation and the socio-economic hardships in Lebanon is at the maximum. Lebanese government sources counted so much on the positive impacts of the decision on the country's economy, trade, and the entire general situation. Premier Hariri did not disclose what his envoy to the US will discuss. The envoy Ghassan Taher who is responsible of the airport's file has already arrived to Washington. His mission in Washington is said to be one of the US terms to arrange for cooperation between the two sides. The prime minister said the discussions aim to improve bilateral relations. He did not confirm whether the envoy to the US is going to discuss resumption of the two countries airliners' flights. Hariri said the US decision was taken in pursuant to series of moves that were carried by the Lebanese government, the present general situation in Lebanon, and the international backing to the country. The visits to Lebanon by the Pope, also visits by the Saudi crown prince Abdullah, prime minister of Malaysia, chairman of the world bank, and the latest Pan Arab Games, together with the visits of the two countries officials and the US envoys who came and observed the situation on ground, all that helped Mrs.. Albright to take the decision.

He said Lebanon is against terrorism and it was it's victim and still suffers until now pay offs of terrorism, but Lebanon will cooperate with all other countries to enhance it's security. Hariri said the resistance in south Lebanon and the Israeli occupation are two interconnected issues. He said that the Americans who wish to come to Lebanon will not be posed to any harm and their safety will be ensured, same as other foreigners and same as the Lebanese. He noted that many Americans visited the country during the travel ban period and nothing happened to them.

-Lebanon's foreign minister Fares Boueiz expressed his dismay for not being formally informed of the decision by his US counterpart. The foreign ministry same as other people was informed by the media. Mr.. Boueiz said so far it is not clear whether the decision include the Lebanese national airliner MEA flights to Washington, The US consulate in Lebanon and visa procedures. Boueiz said Washington should clear shortly if the decision include these points or not. He said the US travel ban was not justified after security and stability were restored in the country.

-Hizbullah immediate reaction was that lifting the ban won't change things drastically and the US came under the pressure of American companies and businessmen who want to share in the reconstruction projects. Hizbullah deputy leader sheikh Naim Kassem said later the lift of the ban was a victory of the resistance and Lebanon's logic that was not affected by the US blackmail. Kassem said no one discussed security assurances with Hizbullah, which however is not entitled to give it, and there is no meaning of asking such assurances, since the Lebanese security forces are doing well whether America accepted or not. He said the resistance against Israel is sacred and natural and it is different in root from the terrorism America speaks about it. Mrs. Albright refused to say whether she received assurances from Syria and Iran before taking the decision. Albright was quoted saying that Hariri promised to curb Hizbullah but the prime minister denied such information.

-Batroun MP Boutros Harb said the decision was a result of the enormous efforts exerted by all friends of Lebanon, particularly the Lebanese lobbyists in Washington. MP Nassib Lahoud hailed all the silent and public efforts that were exerted to lift the ban.

-Japanese Red Army Five Sentence

-Japanese Red Army Five and a Lebanese woman detained in Lebanon for fake travel documents and visas were sentenced today three years in prison for each of them for their illegal entry to the country, Beirut criminal court announced. The court headed by judge Suheil Abdel Samad gave its sentence in absence of the five who remained in their prison cells. The American C.N.N and all other media stations were permitted to televise the sentence via satellite to Japan.


-Prime minister Hariri promised Armenian Mps to review the government decision that refused licensing of the Armenian radio station. Meanwhile, the Islamic religious radio stations in Beirut, Nabatieh and Tripoli continued to broadcast as usual ignoring the government decision to close all political non licensed stations. In Tripoli, the Tawheed radio station that is run by sheikh Saeed Shaaban continued its usual broadcasts, defied the ban and launched a strong attack against the prime minister. The radio said thousands have marched in Tripoli on Friday to protest the government decision to close the station. The audio-visual media stations' follow up committee yesterday met sheikh Mohammed mahdi Shamseddine and said the government series of measures against media stations were unconstitutional, contradict with the national conciliation chart, and violated the law that organized the media stations. Head of the committee quoted sheikh Shamseddine saying he refused closing the media file and persisted that those not granted license should complete their files and documents and be given licenses, namely those operating stations. The file of religious media stations in Lebanon would lead to 18 sects demanding 18 stations.

-House speaker Nabih Berri told his visitors that he is ready for an extra session on August or September because the government proposed draft bills are not yet ready and because he is planning to travel. Berri quoted saying nobody speaks any more about the extra session, because holding it now will put on heated fiery debate issues including the new scales of salary and rank, the municipalities and else.

-The five nation ceasefire monitoring committee's statement after it's 15th meeting this year as of yesterday urged all parties in south Lebanon to adhere to the ceasefire's understanding.

-Brazil's house speaker Michel Tamer met premier Hariri and was hosted at launch by deputy speaker Elie Firzli. Tamer declared that lifting the US travel ban is helpful to Lebanon. He said there are 35 Lebanese origin MPs in Brazil and they form a considerable magnitude that could help Lebanon to consolidate its peace. He wished a balanced trade relation with Lebanon and said Brazil is ready to coordinate fully with Lebanon to regain its full freedom.

-Patriarch Sfair hoped that the government can be able to develop the election system making it more dynamic and allow immigrants to share in the polling and in political life. Patriarch Sfair's visitors raised issues including the displaced, the balanced development and municipalities.

-Army checkpoint stationed at Bater's crossing in the Chuf region on the road to Jezzine started to issue as of yesterday laisser passer to people wishing to go to the town. The former procedure was to obtain permissions at the army offices in Beirut.

-As the interior minister Michel Murr vowed to restrict the so called revolts, hunger revolutions, protests and similar moves, sheikh Subhi Tufeili is seen determined to go on in his hunger revolution, this time at the Beirut suburbs. Tufeili opponents say his move has already died and what is going on is merely tremors that follow the quake of the hunger revolution of Baalbek on the 4th of July. He called the Amrousieh people to prevent the authority to place a garbage dump in their area and told them not to be panicked or frightened. Tufeili said the civil disobedience is a religious obligation and all have to comply with.

-Maronite bishop of Jbeil the Beshara Raaii speaking at Chuf village Majdel Meouch asked the government to give more support to the displaced ministry in order to speed up return of all those displaced.

-The Lebanese national conference group assailed the government policy saying undermining the role of institutions obstructed the formation of the national socio-economic council. The group said Mr. Hariri is dealing with the country same as with his employees or people who make trouble by paying money, but money has already been short with the prime minister and with Lebanon.

-News analyst in Beirut said banning entry of Iraqi athletes to Lebanon to participate in the eighth Pan Arab Games was a personal decision of the prime minister without consulting neither the government nor the parliament. The measure has angered the Iraqis and halted openness that could have paved the ground for Lebanon economical sector's trade exchange with their Iraqi counterparts same as the Syrians.

-Architect of Mayrouba-Kesrouan popular meeting Mp Rshayd el Khazen after a visit to premier Hariri said the Mayrouba move was a meeting not a revolt. Khazen quoted Hariri supporting the demands of Kesrouan people but opposed the method. Khazen said Hariri promised to respond to the possible feasible demands.

-Lebanon's education minister Jean Obeid was informed that successful top grades candidates of the official secondary examinations were mostly from the public schools, including the first in Lebanon in the Bacc2-philosophy and science ex. Average success of the public schools in the bacc examinations was 85 per cent.

-Demmis Roussos in Beirut to perform namely at Tyre festival. Roussos asked about his arrival timing with the lift of the travel ban said the Lebanese need no decision from anyone to decide bringing back life and reconstruction to their country. Roussos said his last year visit to Lebanon and this year's visit are a proof that the situation in the country is better than any other place. Roussos had been taken hostage in the 80's for five days during a visit to Beirut.

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