News from Beirut October 21  1998 ...Search

Hrawi heads cabinet session at Baabda today

President Elias Al-Hrawi heads tonight cabinet's weekly session at the presidential palace in Baabda. Around 59 clauses are to top the agenda of  talks. Ministers are scheduled to discuss a draft project aimed at regulating bird hunting in Lebanon and restoring balance to the Lebanese environment. Cabinet will also discuss a proposal that allows residents of the border villages not to pay water and electricity bills. A ministerial committee headed by Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr will also present a report on the subject of end-of-summer fires. Cabinet's session will also tackle draft agreements to avoid double taxation with France, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Public pay scales to be discussed at a legislative parliamentary session next week

House Speaker Nabih Berri announced that parliament will hold a legislative parliamentary session next week to discuss a number of draft laws that include the public sector pay scales draft law and the rent law project.

The house speaker also received a phone call from Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri who briefed him on the outcome of his meetings with President-elect General Emil Lahhoud up to now. Sources close to Berri said the phone call also tackled the agenda of discussions planned for next week's parliamentary legislative session.

At the sidelines of parliament's session yesterday, Berri told reporters that discussions on the make-up of the upcoming government are premature. He added media reports on the next government formation offend both Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and President-elect General Emil Lahhoud. Berri also expressed his astonishment over reports on the next cabinet's make-up before the appointment of the country's next prime minister.

Jumblatt congratulates Lahhoud on the presidency

War Displaced Minister Walid Jumblatt today sent President-elect General Emil Lahhoud a congratulatory letter on the latter's accession to the presidency of the Lebanese Republic. Jumblatt included his own view of the coming phase in the letter. He also noted outgoing President Elias Al-Hrawi's historical and courageous decisions and the special performance of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. Jumblatt also praised Hrawi's term noting the ongoing reconstruction process in all Lebanese areas and the regaining of international trust in this country. The War Displaced Minister and members in his parliamentary bloc had boycotted Lahhoud's election session last Thursday.

Israel sees Lahhoud's presidency as an obstacle to peace

Israel yesterday admitted that the Lebanese Army was never a source of worry and disturbance to Israel except when General Emil Lahhoud took over its command. Israeli Radio reported that Israeli military officers do not expect to sign a separate peace treaty with Lebanon under the presidency of Lahhoud, because, the radio added, Lahhoud adopts the policy of Syria regarding the subject of peace negotiations with Israel.

Lahhoud had stressed in his address to the nation on the night of his election the importance of the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks in the Mideast peace process.

Israel's Army Chief Shaul Mofaz told the radio Lahhoud's election means a separate peace treaty between Lebanon and Israel will be impossible to reach. During an inspection tour of occupation troops in Southern Lebanon, Mofaz reaffirmed Israeli occupation of Lebanese territories will continue until a peace deal is reached with Beirut and also until the Lebanese government grants Israel security guarantees.

Israeli attacks escalate during the night

Israeli attacks on liberated areas in South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa continued during the night unabated. Israeli shelling targeted the outskirts of the villages of Froun and Ghandourieh in the eastern sector of the occupied zone. Shells also fell on the hills surrounding Jiser Al-Qaqaeyyeh, in addition to the villages of Alman and Easter Zawtar. The bombardment also targeted the Western Bekaa mainly centering on the areas of Jabbour, the fields of Abi Rached, and the Rahbat Hill.

For its part, the Amal Movement announced one of its groups attacked an Israeli allied militia position in Salaa and fought with its militiamen over 15 minutes scoring direct hits among them.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Resistance carried out operations against Israeli outposts in Qamha, Houla, and Ahmadieh.

Syrian-Lebanese trade committee prepares for Damascus meeting

The higher joint Lebanese-Syrian Committee on industrial and trade cooperation is expected to meet soon in Damascus. The meeting will be headed by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and his Syrian counterpart Mahmud Al-Zoghbi. Lebanese and Syrian industrialists yesterday discussed in Beirut the necessity of unifying custom duties on primary resources. The meeting was attended by industrialists from Damascus, Aleppo, and Lebanon. They also discussed ways to diminish obstacles to the exchange of industrial products between the two countries.

Higher Lebanese-Iranian committee discusses bilateral cooperation in Beirut

The visiting Iranian delegation headed by Housing Minister Abd Ali Zadah met Housing Minister Mahmud Abou-Hamdan and Acting Finance Minister Fouad Al-Sanyoura. The visit comes under the framework of the activities of the joint higher committee between Lebanon and Iran.

Discussions with the finance minister centered on ways to boost financial and economic cooperation between the two countries. During the next few days, Lebanese and Iranian officials are expected to sign a number of agreements to launch an air route between Beirut and Tehran and to avoid double taxation between the two countries.

Sanyoura told reporters meetings will also focus on boosting private sector bilateral cooperation. Sanyoura added the delegation will hold business meetings with officials at the Transportation Ministry. For his part, Minister Abou-Hamdan said the delegation will visit Beirut's downtown area to inspect the reconstruction process of old buildings that were destroyed during the war.

Clocks to be moved backwards by one hour this weekend

Lebanese clocks are to be moved backwards as of midnight October 24-25. This was announced by the Prime Ministry's Director General Hisham Al-Shaar. Many Lebanese have confused attitudes and feelings about this.

Some of them complain of having to return home from work and schools when it is already dark. Still, others would benefit from one extra hour of sleep in the morning.

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