News from Beirut January 16  1998 ...Search

Israeli warplanes strike in the South and three Israelis hurt

Israeli warplanes today rocketed suspected Hizbullah targets in South Lebanon. Two Israeli warplanes fired a total of four rockets into the hills of Iqlim Al-Touffah, just north of the zone Israel occupies in the South. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the air raid, the first into Lebanon this year.

Earlier today, Hizbullah guerrillas fired machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades at an Israeli patrol inside the zone, wounding three soldiers. Hizbullah claimed responsibility for the attack. An Israeli military source in the zone said one guerrilla was killed in the clash and his body taken to Marjayoun hospital. There was no immediate comment from Hizbullah on the reported death.

In Israel, an army spokesman confirmed the guerrilla attack and the Israeli air raid saying ? a paratroopers division on operational duty this morning clashed with terrorists and killed at least one "terrorist" in the Soujoud area in the eastern sector of the security zone. The spokesman added three Israeli soldiers were very lightly wounded and were transferred to hospital for treatment. He also said during the incident guerrillas fired shells at Israeli forces operating in the same area.

Today's casualties brought to nine the number of Israeli soldiers wounded in guerrilla attacks since the beginning of the year.

Hrawi calls for amendments on optional civil marriage law

President Elias Al-Hrawi today reiterated his call for the necessity of introducing amendments to the law of optional civil marriage in the country, considering the issue takes a wide national perspective. He stressed the necessity of the law to those Lebanese who wish to marry in a civil manners, enabling them to get married in their country without having to travel to other countries outside.

Hrawi was quoted by deputy Abdel Rahim Mourad who visited him at the presidential palace in Baabda today. Mourad also reported Hrawi as saying he will present his suggestion to parliament after the sessions scheduled for budget discussions. The president received today Industry Minister Nadim Salem and discussed with him issues related to his ministry and to the situation of the industrial sector in the country.

Hariri convenes with National Decision Bloc and American charge d'affairs

Prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri today headed a meeting of the National Decision Bloc this morning at the Government Palace. Discussions centered on the budget deficit, municipal elections and recent statements by Israeli officials concerning the implementation of resolution 425. After the meeting, the bloc stressed the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks. It also refused all conditions set by the recent Israeli proposal concerning UN resolution 425.

Hariri later held talks with the American charge d'affairs in Lebanon, Greg Perry. After the meeting, he revealed a judicial expert from the American Finance Ministry will arrive to Lebanon next week to hold discussions with Lebanese officials on issues related to drug trade. Perry said Lebanon made many steps in the direction of limiting drug dealing in the country which he described as very dangerous.

Algerian Ambassador to Lebanon criticizes Lebanese statements calling for Algeria aid

At Boustrous Palace today, the Algerian ambassador to Lebanon Al-Hassan Bou Faris today held talks with the foreign ministry's secretary general Zafer Al-Hassan concerning recent developments in Algeria and the Lebanese suggestion calling for an active Arab grouping to help Algeria. The Algerian ambassador criticized recent statements by some Lebanese officials concerning the massacre of civilians in Algeria. He also reiterated his country's rejection to any foreign intervention in its internal affairs.

But he added his country which received a delegation from the Arab league recently does not reject initiative of aid. He said the delegation expressed Arab solidarity with Algeria and its people condemning all acts of violence and massacres. The Algerian ambassador said solidarity with his country can only be expressed in a form similar to that of the Arab League.

Al-Hassan also held talks today with the Tunisian ambassador to Lebanon who later reveled s number of ministers in his country including the Minister of Tourism are expected to visit Lebanon in the coming months. Also at the foreign ministry today, Argentine's ambassador to Lebanon discussed preparations for the Argentinean president Carlos Menem's official visit to Lebanon scheduled on February the 2nd. The foreign ministry also announced today that Lebanon will hold diplomatic ties with the government of Lativia which will be represented by an un-residing ambassador to the country.

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