Official, religious, popular, and party figures in the country today took part in a huge funeral procession of the President of the Phalanges Party in Lebanon, George Saadeh. Representatives of President Elias Al-Hrawi, President-elect Emil Lahhoud, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri were also there. They all praised the qualifications of the late official and party leader.
Saadeh died at the Hotel Dieu Hospital Tuesday where he was admitted last week after a major deterioration in his health. A party statement said Saadeh died of colon cancer at the age of 68.
Mr. Saadeh was a former deputy and he also held several cabinet portfolios. He was also one of the architects of the 1989 Taef Accord that ended the Lebanese civil war. Saadeh will be buried in Shibteen, the place of his birth in the Batroun area in the presence of his wife, his daughter and his two sons.
Cabinet held its final session during President Elias Al-Hrawi's term today at the Baabda presidential palace. The meeting was headed by President Hrawi and attended by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and the ministers.
The session was dedicated to studying the accomplishments achieved in the country during Hrawi's presidency. Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa later told reporters at the palace cabinet also ratified most of the 26 clauses that topped its agenda of talks.
For his part, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri opened the session by listing the different accomplishments made during President Hrawi's term in office. Hariri also expressed hope that the upcoming phase will solve the various remaining files that are of interest to both the civil and political community in Lebanon. Hariri also praised the country's stability and security during Hrawi's presidency.
During cabinet's session this morning, President Elias Al-Hrawi presented to ministers a US invitation to Lebanon to participate in the conference to support the Wye River Accord. Hrawi reiterated Lebanon's firm stance in this regard. The president said that the US administration stressed that the Lebanese Foreign Minister is invited to participate in the event.
Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa later briefed reporters on the meeting's decisions. Sabaa said the president added the invitation comes in light of the absence of Arab consensus around the Wye River Agreement and it also comes at a time when Israel still occupies territories in Lebanon and Syria. The president thus announced the Lebanese government's refusal to participate in such a meeting.
President Elias Al-Hrawi today received a thanking note from his Syrian counterpart President Hafez Al-Assad. Hrawi had sent him an earlier letter congratulating Assad on the 28th anniversary of the Corrective Movement in Syria.
In his message, the Syrian President stressed that brotherly ties between the two countries will continue to grow and flourish. The Syrian President repeated his best wishes for Hrawi's good health.
Preparations are underway in the country for Independence Day celebrations to be held next Monday. This is the 55th anniversary of Lebanon's independence. Banners and Lebanese flags crowded the capital and the different Lebanese areas.
Meanwhile, public and private schools organized a number of activities and celebrations on the occasion. Rallies are also expected to be held by students on Saturday. The National Independence Day, which falls on November 22, is one of the country's most celebrated official vacations.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today received the US ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield. Their talks centered on issues related to bilateral ties and recent regional developments.
Satterfield was accompanied by the head of the American delegation to the international panel in charge of monitoring the implementation of the April 1996 Understanding. The US ambassador later reported the US administration's ongoing concern for putting an end to violence in South Lebanon.
The premier last night arrived in Beirut coming from Damascus where he held talks with Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad and his deputy Abdel Halim Khaddam. Hariri told his visitors today Lebanese-Syrian consultation and coordination will continue on the way of reaching the two countries' common goals and interests.
In parliament today, House Speaker Nabih Berri received the Iranian charge d'affairs in Lebanon, Mohammed Irani. Their meeting tackled a number of bilateral concerns between Lebanon and the Islamic Republic.
Irani later told reporters he handed the house speaker an invitation to participate in the preparatory meeting for house speakers in Islamic countries which will be held in Tehran on the 14th and 15th of next month.
The Iranian diplomat also handed Berri a congratulatory letter from his Iranian counterpart, Nateq Nouri on the occasion of Lebanon's Independence.
Israeli occupying forces today continued their attacks on South Lebanon mainly targeting the villages of the western and central sectors of the occupation zone amid mock air raids over the area.
Israeli heavy artillery this morning targeted the fields of Jabal Al-Rayhan, Mazraat Okmata, Majdel Zoun, Yater and the hills of Mansouri. Considerable material damage was inflicted in the area.
Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes during the day carried our mock air raids over the areas of Nabatieh and Iqlim Al-Touffah.
In another development today, an old bomb planted by Israeli occupying forces today exploded near the Qaroun Lake wounding three civilians; Imad Hussein Ghandour, Ibrahim Khalil Ibrahim, and Walid Mohammed Ali. They were directly taken to the Jib Jenneen Hospital for treatment.
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