The head of the Phalanges Party in Lebanon, George Saadeh, died this morning from cancer. Radio Voice of Lebanon early this morning announced this bidding Saadeh a touching farewell. Saadeh was a former deputy and minister in the Lebanese government.
Saadeh had headed the party since 1986. The Phalanges is one of the biggest parties in the country. His deputy Karim Pakradouni will head the party until a new leader is elected.
President Elias Al-Hrawi last night telephoned his Syrian counterpart, President Hafez Al-Assad thanking him on the hearty messages he sent during Hrawi's stay in hospital. Hrawi also sent Assad a congratulatory message on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the Corrective Movement.
Hrawi, who is currently recuperating at his residence in Yarzeh, also expressed his willingness to participate in Independence Day ceremonies on November 22. But Hrawi added his presence during the ceremonies would depend on his health and on his doctors' advice. He also said his independence message to the Lebanese this year would be his farewell speech.
Meanwhile, Hrawi is expected to head cabinet's session next Thursday. This would be the final session of the Lebanese cabinet during Hrawi's presidential term.
Preparations are still underway for president-elect General Emil Lahhoud's official accession to the presidency of the Lebanese republic. House Speaker Nabih Berri yesterday called on parliament to hold the presidential oath session next Tuesday, November 24 during which Lahhoud will be sworn in.
Meanwhile, Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam stressed his country would continue its ongoing support to Lebanon under the presidency of General Emil Lahhoud. Khaddam reiterated Syria's appreciation for the accomplishments made during President Elias Al-Hrawi's presidential term.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri last night ended a one-day official visit to the Iranian capital. During his short stay at the Islamic Republic, Hariri held talks with Iranian President Mohammed Khatemi, Vice President Hassan Habibi, and former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in addition to other officials there.
Talks centered on ways to boost bilateral ties between the two countries. Hariri's meetings in Tehran also tackled latest developments in the Mideast peace process and the situation in South Lebanon.
The Lebanese premier later headed to Riyadh where he will meet today a number of high-ranking officials in the kingdom. Hariri is expected back in Beirut tonight.
Israel yesterday admitted three of its soldiers were killed and four others wounded in a resistance operation. The Hizbullah resistance movement detonated a roadside bomb near the village of Markaba while an Israeli patrol was passing by.
Meanwhile, Israeli occupying troops continued their attacks on South Lebanon all night long. Israeli shells fell early this morning on the villages of the central sector of the occupied zone.
At 4:30 a.m., Israeli shelling originating from the positions in Qantara targeted the areas of Wadi Al-Hojeir and Wadi Al-Qaysseiyyeh. Shells later fell on the outskirts of Qabreekha, Majdel Selem, Harees, Baraasheet, Ayta Al-Jabal, and Haddatha. More than 30 shells targeted these areas in less than 30 minutes.
The five-nation cease-fire panel charged with monitoring the April 1996 understanding is scheduled to meet today in Naqoura at the headquarters of the UN Interim Forces. The meeting will look into two complaints, one filed by Lebanon and the other by Israel.
The Lebanese complaint centers on Israeli shelling of civilian areas in the village of Arab Saleem. Meanwhile, the Israeli side to the group lodged a complaint over alleged resistance attacks originating from civilian populated areas in Jbaa.
Kurdish people living in Lebanon yesterday started a two-day hunger strike in protest to the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. A group of more than 50 protestors called on the Italian government to grant Ocalan asylum.
Also in Lebanon, War Displaced Minister Walid Jumblatt called on Italy not to extradite the Kurdish leader to Turkey. Jumblatt said if Ocalan was extradited, he will not have a fair trial.
The head of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), Turkey's most wanted man, was arrested in Rome last Friday.
The Greenpeace Mediterranean Office condemned the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) for insisting to install asbestos cement (A/C) pipes for drinking water systems in the Akkar region.
Greenpeace also accused the CDR of disregarding the concerns of the citizens and of the Water Authority of Qobeyyat and is pushing for the use of asbestos cement pipes for new drinking water systems in the villages of Qobeyyat and Andaqt in Akkar.
Greenpeace revealed these details during a lecture organized by the "Youth Club" of Hamat, a village near the northern town of Chekka where the asbestos cement pipe producer Eternit is located. Hamat is also located near the dump where Eternit's asbestos waste ends up.
"The CDR knows that asbestos products are being banned in countries all over the world and that the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised to use alternatives to asbestos whenever available as a precautionary measure.
So why is the CDR pushing for A/C pipes in Akkar, while the Kesrwan coast and the towns of Batrun, Baabdat, Aley, Bhamdun, Saida and others received iron ductile and plastic pipes?" asked Fouad Hamdan, Lebanon campaigner of Greenpeace Mediterranean.
Greenpeace opposes the use of asbestos in every application because inhaling the fiber, whether in the production plant, on the construction work site or at the disposal dump, causes lethal lung diseases like cancer and asbestosis.
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