President Elias Al-Hrawi's fast recovery enabled him to continue his official activities today at Baabda after a period of recuperation at his residence in Yarzeh. The president was quoted by his visitors as saying he will participate in Independence Day ceremonies on November 22.
A concise reception ceremony will be held after the military show at the Baabda presidential palace in the presence of the president-elect, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The country's leaders will start receiving visitors on the occasion at Baabda Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
Meanwhile, President Hrawi will head cabinet's final session during his term in office tomorrow at the presidential palace in Baabda. 26 clauses are expected to top the agenda of talks during the meeting.
President-elect General Emil Lahhoud continues his meetings and contacts with Lebanese officials and figures in preparation for his official accession to the presidency next Tuesday.
The president-elect yesterday telephoned Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad extending his congratulations on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the Corrective Movement, which brought Assad to power.
Lahhoud received a congratulatory letter on his election from his Argentinean counterpart, Carlos Menem. In his message, Menem hoped peace and prosperity would always prevail in Lebanon stressing his country's solidarity with Lebanon and its people. Lahhoud was handed a similar message sent by Venezuela's President.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri is back from a Mideast tour that took him to Tehran, Riyadh and Damascus. In the Syrian capital yesterday, Hariri convened with Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam. Discussions centered on the latest developments on the local and regional levels.
Earlier in Riyadh, the Lebanese Premier met Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Their meeting tackled issues related to bilateral ties between Lebanon and the Kingdom, in addition to a number of recent developments in the Middle East.
Hariri later told reporters the Wye Plantation Agreement will not have any effect on Lebanon's ongoing adherence to a comprehensive and just peace formula in the region. Hariri also reiterated the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks in the peace process. He added that Lebanon's resistance against the Israeli occupation is a lawful right no one can deny.
Recent resistance operations against Israeli occupying troops inside the zone Israel occupies in South Lebanon have created wide military and political controversy inside the Jewish State. This led some members in the Israeli parliamentary defense and security committee to voice threats against Syria claiming she was responsible for resistance operations against the occupation.
The Israeli army leadership has also formed a special committee headed by an Israeli general to determine the circumstances allowing Lebanese resistance men to carry out their operation two days ago against an Israeli position near the border.
The Israeli radio reported that the army has launched a formal investigation into the resistance roadside bombing near Markaba which killed three of its soldiers and wounded four others. The committee was also ordered to examine how the resistance was able to place the bomb at a thirty-meter distance from the Israeli outpost.
Israel escalated its attacks early this morning on a number of villages in the central sector of the occupation zone. Meanwhile, Israeli helicopters carried out three consecutive air raids in less than 30 minutes targeting the outskirts of Baraasheet and Shakra with several air-to-ground missiles.
Israel later heavily shelled the villages of Tibnin, Haddatha, Jabal Al-Zaatar and Ayta Al-Jabal. The bombardment was accompanied by Israeli inspection flights over the area.
For its part, the Lebanese resistance retaliated by shelling a number of Israeli positions inside the occupation zone. Resistance groups attacked Israeli outposts in Baraasheet, Bir Kallab, and Sojod scoring direct hits inside the positions.
Following its meeting yesterday at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura, the international panel charged with monitoring the April 1996 Understanding found Israel responsible for the shelling of the village of Arab Saleem where a number of civilian homes were damaged in addition to a nearby shop. Meanwhile, the group did not verify Israeli allegations of resistance attacks originating from civilian areas in the village of Jbaa.
The group met to discuss two complaints, one filed by Lebanon and the other by Israel, over alleged violations of the truce agreement. The international panel includes delegates from Lebanon, Syria, Israel, France, and the US.
The German Ambassador to Lebanon, Peter Wittig held a meeting with Minister of Economy and Trade Yassin Jaber. Discussions centered on German investment opportunities in Lebanon and the possibility of initiating joint industrial projects between the private sectors of both countries.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Ambassador to Lebanon announced after talks with Minister of Culture and Higher Education Fawzi Hobeish his country offers Lebanese students a number of educational scholarships through the Lebanese government. The Canadian diplomat stressed his country is highly interested in boosting cultural cooperation with Lebanon.
For his part, Egyptian ambassador Adel Al-Khodari visited the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry Zafer Al-Hassan. Talks centered on the outcome of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's recent official visit to Cairo.
Al-Hassan also updated the Egyptian ambassador on the outcome of the Austrian Foreign Minister's talks in Lebanon last week in light of ongoing coordination between Lebanon and Egypt regarding the peace process and the situation in the region.
Greenpeace Mediterranean Office in Lebanon praised a recent move by the Municipality of Sidon to install iron ductile pipes and plastic pipes to modernize its water system, and for using plastic pipes for the sewage system in the city's old district. The company "South for Construction" is in charge of the project.
Greenpeace earlier condemned the use of asbestos pipes in other areas of the country. Asbestos pipes, Greenpeace says, contain a high percentage of killer fiber. 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.
The Greenpeace statement added the scientific community has not reached a consensus on the dangers of asbestos in drinking water. But the World Health Organization (WHO) advised in a statement on September 10th, 1996:
"When available, substitute materials evaluated safer than chrysotile (asbestos fiber) should be used".
Many countries have followed the WHO advice as a precautionary measure. Greenpeace called on CDR President Nabil El-Jisr and Health Minister Suleiman Franjieh to implement the precautionary policy in all infrastructure projects in the country.
Greenpeace also appealed on all deputies and mayors in Lebanon to oppose the use of asbestos not only in cement pipes but also in all other applications like roof panels and braking pads.
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