News from Beirut August 27  1997 ...Search


-Lebanon's officials denied allegations saying the US is trying to modify the functions of the ceasefire monitoring committee. US ambassador Richard Jones and chief of the US team at the committee Joseph Salivan continued their visits to Lebanese officials. Salivan excluded a large scale deterioration in south Lebanon. The officials here described the visits as routine one aimed to enhance the work of the ceasefire panel.

Government sources said the move of the US officials is a good signal, following the lift of the US travel ban, but see no need to change mechanism of the panel. House speaker Nabih Berri see that the panel should hold a meeting to evaluate and review its work, without any prior complaints and victims, jokingly saying he is worried the panel would turn into a victim itself.

Mr. Berri raised the point of the Israeli continued sea siege along the coast of south and the Israeli use of the internationally prohibited bombs which recently struck Nabatieh. Berri presented to Salivan photos of the prohibited bombs that were fired against Nabatieh. Salivan, after a visit to the foreign ministry, said he wanted to listen directly to the Lebanese government over its concern to find ways to "activate" the work of the committee. He did not elaborate or clarify what is meant by activating and whether it meant a new mechanism of the committee.

President Elias Hrawi told his visitors that some of the foreign and American delegation that visited Lebanon did not hear about the UN resolution 425. He expressed his relief to the letter he received from Mrs. Albright. Opposition media said the Lebanese noticed increasing visits to the country by the Americans, also noticed that some of the Lebanese officials highlights the relation with the Americans, while others including the interior and defense ministers refrain to meet them, perhaps to enhance their position in Syria.

The same media said the Americans on their part inquired the size and limit of the Lebanese decision making and how much the relation with Syria affect the decision making. One of the opposition dailies said in its headlines today "what are the Americans doing in Beirut, and what Mrs. Albright wants ? ”

The Case of Jezzine

-President Elias Hrawi reiterated that the Lebanese internal unity is sufficient to overcome all difficulties recalling that Lebanon had overcome the Israeli projects such as "Jezzine First" and "Lebanon First". Patriarch Sfair yesterday said before foreign delegations that visited him at Diman "the Jezzine people are before two fires, the fire of resistance and the fire of Israeli enemy. He said in both cases the innocents are killed and blood of the martyrs are let , without knowing why the are killed.

The patriarch said the destructive war in Lebanon forced 750 thousand Lebanese to migrate to Australia, Canada, America and Brazil, causing imbalance at home and lack of the skilled manpower that could have helped the country to develop.

He said the same war forced one million Lebanese to evacuate their original homes and so far they did not return back. He said the living standard in Lebanon is retreating because of the foreign labors coming from Syria, Egypt and Sirilanka, thus depriving the Lebanese of available jobs.

Government Meeting On Verge of Abroad Visits

-The Lebanese government is to hold tomorrow its weekly ordinary session instead of today. The session is held on verge of series of travels abroad by senior officials. President Hrawi is leaving to Brazil on Monday in a 10 day official visit. He will be accompanied by 7 ministers including ministers of foreign affairs, justice, defense, agriculture, municipalities, immigrants, and state minister Elias Hanna.

House speaker Berri is to leave to Rumania and Iran. Premier Hariri is leaving to Paris and Australia. These visits will continue until end of September. Prime minister Hariri is to preside today a ministerial meeting that will discuss ways to ensure the budget allocations that were allocated earlier to the rural areas of Baalbek- Hermel and Akkar, also to discuss ways of spending the money.

News reports expected Hariri to raise again his proposal on the $1bn foreign loan which will be spend on the rural development and other reconstruction projects. He will explain the mechanism of the 30 year bond issue of $1bn and how to pay it. Among the 38 topic on the agenda is the formation of a civil aviation high council that will unite the authority running the airport.

-Opposition media argued why the president ceded and altered his prerogatives to the prime minister and why he woos Rafik Hariri. It said the president went far in ceding his power and maintained silence on several issues, including the embezzlement and corruption in the public administration, the restructuring of the ISF in a way that satisfied the premier and the prime minister's hegemony on several ministries etc. The media argued if that was in accordance to a package or because of the coming presidential elections or extension.


-Israeli warplanes flew over almost all Lebanon causing sonic booms. The Israeli artillery shelled areas in the middle and eastern sectors. The Islamic resistance repelled an Israeli advance toward west Bekaa liberated areas including Jabbour and Abu Rashid.

-Ambassador of Iran in Lebanon affirmed that the Lebanese embassy in Tehran refrain to issue visas to Iranians to visit Lebanon is due to an existing problem but it is going to be resolved. He gave the declaration after a visit to the prime minister and foreign minister. Restricting visas to the Iranian nationals coming to Lebanon signals mistrust problem between Lebanon and Iran, papers said.. The Iranian ambassador admitted that a problem is existing between the two states but without elaborating. News analyst in Beirut argue if its the time to establish state to state relation instead of the Iran-Hizbullah relation.

-The constitutional council is scheduled to elect today its president and deputy president after both the government and parliament appointed-elected the vacant seats of the 10 member board. The president would be a Maronite and the deputy president a Muslim Sunni.

-Papal nuncio in Lebanon Pablo Puente paid farewell visits to sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine, bishop Elias Audi and the foreign minister. His visits came prior to his final departure after he was transferred to Britain.

-Ambassador of Canada yesterday visited Nabatieh and checked a handicapped mobile chairs factory granted by the Canadian fund. He said the fund is supporting several humanitarian activities in all Lebanese regions.

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili, at a religious center at Lailaki in the southern suburbs of Beirut, warned the government of playing down on the projects it has decided for Baalbek-Hermel. He said he will resume the hunger revolution if he feels the government is playing down. He said his last meeting with Hizbullah secretary general sheikh Hassan Nasrallah aimed to drop rumors that said he is in disagreement with Hizbullah.

-The displaced ministry decided to remove squatters occupying lands at Chuit village. The ministry and the displaced fund discussed payment of the reconstruction allowances to Damour and Kfar Nabrakh, also other villages on the schedule of this year. News reports said the prime minister coming meeting with the displaced minister Walid Jumblat will speed up the return of the displaced and the financing of their repatriation.


-Education minister Jean Obeid expressed Lebanon's wish to host the Francophone Sports Games. Obeid, attending the Francophone youths and sports ministers' conferdence in Madagascar, said Lebanon is recovering and has suitable sports facilities. He recalled that Lebanon has recently hosted the Arab Sports games.

-Lebanese wrestling union discussed development of the sport and decided to establish four training centers and invitation of foreign wrestlers for training.

-Victor Haddad basketball tournament organized by Kahraba-Zouk is to start Monday with 9 teams including Italian and Greek teams.

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