A business meeting will be held tomorrow afternoon between President-elect General Emil Lahhoud and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri to discuss the files of the next presidential term and formulate future policies.
Government sources said the meeting would also set a program of priorities for the upcoming phase. The sources added a series of similar meetings will follow until Lahhoud officially takes up office on November 24. Lahhoud and Hariri held their first meeting following Lahhoud's election last Thursday.
Arab and Lebanese congratulatory messages continued to pour in today at the office of President-elect General Emil Lahhoud in Yarzeh. Libyan President Moammar Al-Qadhafi, Iranian President Mohammed Khatemi, UAE President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Oman's Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed and other Arab leaders and local supporters today sent Lebanon's president-elect congratulatory statements welcoming his election as the country's next head of state. The messages praised the remarkable past of Lahhoud as army chief stressing his election guarantees a bright future for Lebanon.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today told the Lebanese press he will not discuss the subject of government formation before President-elect General Emil Lahhoud is sworn in as president on November 24, a day after President Elias Al-Hrawi's term in office ends.
Hariri reiterated this stance to ministers and deputies who visited him at the Grand Saray this morning. Deputies told reporters at the government house it was still early to tackle the subject of the formation of the next government.
Visiting Deputy Elias Al-Khazen also welcomed the election of General Emil Lahhoud praising his leadership qualities and the massive support that accompanied his election.
Deputy Jihad Al-Samad stressed the new phase will be that of law and institutions. He added Lahhoud and Hariri both agree on this.
Deputy Ahmad Fatfat reiterated the importance of the formation of the new government. He said three files should be given top priority in the upcoming phase: administrative, economic, and political reform.
For his part, Deputy Hussein Al-Hajj Hasan said Hizbullah has not decided whether to take part in the next government or not. He also expected Prime Minister Hariri will remain in office.
The premier also met today deputies Antoine Haddad, Mesbah Al-Ahdab, Fayez Ghosn, Kabalan Issa Al-Khoury, Mahumd Awwad, Mohammed Abdel Latif Kabbara, Mohammed Ali Al-Mayss, Kamil Zyadeh, Saleh Al-Kheir, Anwar Al-Khalil, Robert Ghanem, and others.
At the Grand Saray this morning, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri received his deputy, Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr. The Interior Minister later stressed Prime Minister Hariri and President-elect General Emil Lahhoud will hold a series of meetings in the coming six weeks to discuss issues at stake and the future cooperation between them. Before his official accession to the presidency, Lahhoud is expected to hold discussions and consultations that would help him formulate his political agenda. Murr also revealed today cabinet will be in session at the presidential palace in Baabda next Wednesday.
Deputy Boutros Harb today hoped the "Troika" institution would fall. He stressed that Lebanon needs a one-headed authority; the many-headed system- the Troika- proved its failure. Such a system can live only at the expense of Lebanon's unity, constitution, and sound political practice, Harb added.
He was speaking after talks with President Elias Al-Hrawi at the presidential palace in Baabda. Harb described the coming phase as a new phase of building a state of law and institutions on new grounds that take into consideration the Lebanese people's will and ambitions. Harb said this would depend on the next head of state and the team that he will form with the prime minister.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nassrallah Boutros Sfeir held discussions with a number of deputies and Lebanese officials who visited him at Bkirki today. After talks with the Maronite Patriarch, Deputy Kabalan Issa Al-Khoury praised General Emil Lahhoud as the country's next head of state.
Al-Khoury told reporters at Bkirki Lahhoud's strength and honesty will enable him to take sound decisions that will benefit all the Lebanese people, expecting that Lahhoud will prove to be a non-sectarian president.
Sfeir also convened today with deputies Emil Nawfal and Rabeea Kayrouz. Talks focused on the subject of Lahhoud's presidency and on the outcome of Sfeir's recent visit to Jordan.
The Lebanese Parliament is scheduled to meet tomorrow morning at the beginning of an ordinary session held to elect new parliamentary committees and members in the house's general assembly.
House Speaker Nabih Berri today convened with Deputy Faysal Al-Dawood who was accompanied by two Druze Sheiks, Mahmud Hasan Ward and Fawwaz Monzer, who were recently expelled by Israeli troops from their village in Hasbayya. Deputy Dawood called on the house speaker to increase contacts with international organizations to pressure Israel in a bid to allow all expelled Lebanese to return to their homes and villages in the South.
Berri also held talks today with the American Ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield who visited the house speaker along with the US State Department Director of the Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan Desk and the political attaché at the embassy. Discussions centered on the current developments in the Mideast peace process.
At Boustros Palace, Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz today held discussions with the Director of the Desk on Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan at the US Foreign Ministry, Sharon Wiener who was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield. The meeting focused on the US-sponsored talks that are currently being held between President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat in Maryland. Satterfield stressed the importance of reaching just and comprehensive peace in the region. He also voiced his country's stance regarding the current Turkish-Syrian crisis stressing the US supports a diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the situation.
Boueiz also discussed the Turkish-Syrian crisis with the Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon who later revealed to reporters that he handed Boueiz a letter from his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem regarding Turkey's stance from the crisis with Syria.
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