Analysts in the country today wrote that Lebanese officials well received the outcome of the presidential Lebanese-Syrian summit and the selection of Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud as the upcoming head of state. The government is now busy with constitutional measures that should be taken to allow Lahhoud to be elected president before October 15, as House Speaker Nabih Berri expected. Berri sources yesterday stressed the importance of the role of institutions. The sources added Lahhoud would preserve constitutional institutions in the country just as he worked on preserving the army institution. Parliament is expected to meet next Thursday to elect the new president.
Cabinet is expected to meet tomorrow morning at the presidential palace in Baabda. During the session, President Elias Al-Hrawi is due to propose the amendment to clause three of Article 49 of the constitution to pave the way for Lahhoud's candidacy by allowing first rank government employees to run for presidency. The cabinet will endorse Hrawi's proposal and then refer it to parliament. Tomorrow's session will be headed by President Hrawi and attended by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and the ministers.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri is expected to return today to Beirut via Damascus where he will hold talks with top Syrian officials on Ankara's latest threats to Syria. Hariri yesterday discussed with Saudi King Fahd Bin Abdel Aziz issues related to bilateral ties between the two countries and the general situation in the Arab world. Hariri also held talks with Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdel Aziz. Upon his arrival in Beirut, the premier will head to Baabda where he will brief the president on the outcome of his discussions and tackle the agenda of talks scheduled for tomorrow's cabinet session.
The newly appointed US ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield, said the selection of Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud as the upcoming president is purely a Lebanese matter. Satterfield voiced support for the choice of Lebanese officials adding he will cooperate with the new head of state. The US ambassador also said his country backs all constitutional institutions in Lebanon. He stressed that his primary mission here is to help the government and the Lebanese people in the reconstruction of Lebanon adding his country is working hard to help this region reach a just and comprehensive peace settlement. Satterfield made his statements late yesterday after separate talks with President Elias Al-Hrawi at Baabda and Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir at Bkirki.
Israeli troops today opened the Zemrayyah border crossing leading to Hasbayya after a two-day siege implemented on the village. Assisted by their allied militiamen, Israeli soldiers during the past few hours inspected the village in search for the resistance men who carried out an operation Monday afternoon against a convoy of Israeli troops at the outskirts of the village, killing two of its soldiers and wounding six others. But the allied militia today distributed a statement among Hasbayya residents preventing them from visiting their property and fields situated to the north of their town. If residents do not abide by the decision, the statement added, militiaman will be ordered to shoot with no previous warning.
Israeli shells late yesterday fell on civilian areas in the village of Baraasheet. Meanwhile, the Amal Movement attacked an Israeli allied militia patrol on the road leading to the Baraasheet outpost in the western sector of the occupation zone. Amal said a number of casualties fell among the militiamen during the operation. Another Amal group also attacked yesterday the outpost of Baraasheet scoring direct hits in the position.
Minister of Culture and Higher Education Fawzi Hobeish this evening returns to Beirut following his participation in the International Conference on Higher Education that was held in Paris. The conference was organized by UNESCO and its discussions centered on the challenges facing higher education in the 21st century. Hobeish stressed the importance of the conference adding the Lebanese government and the Ministry of Higher Education plan to establish new technical university institutes in the country. Hobeish was accompanied by the head of the education parliamentary committee, Deputy Bahiyya Al-Hariri and a number of officials at the ministry.
Some 36 million US dollars were granted to Lebanon by the European Union in support for the government's administrative reform program. EU Representative in Lebanon Demitris Kourkolas said the union will continue to assist Lebanon and its development. For his part, Administrative Reform Minister Bshara Merhej praised the EU aid and its effect on the administrative rehabilitation program. Acting Finance Minister, Fouad Sanyoura, who also attended the meeting, expressed the government's appreciation for the EU's continuous help for capacity building in the Lebanese administration and for the upgrading and modernization of the systems and procedures involved, in addition to the training of personnel in a bid to improve their performance.
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