News from Beirut November 20  1998 ...Search

Lebanon celebrates Flag Day today

Lebanon today celebrated the Flag Day. Public and private schools across the country were decorated with the Lebanese flags and ceremonies were organized by students and their teachers. The UNESCO Palace in Beirut also witnessed a huge ceremony on the occasion.

Education Minister John Obeid told the gathering at UNESCO Lebanon transcends all sects and confessions. Obeid added the Lebanese War reiterated the fact that Lebanon's existence is directly linked to the solidarity of its people. Obeid reiterated Lebanon is in safe hands and will also be given to safe hands. Huge numbers of scouts and public school students attended the ceremony.

The Education Minister later headed to the presidential palace to receive participants in a national marathon coming from the country's governorates in a bid to hand President Hrawi the Lebanese flag, the symbol of Lebanon and its independence.

Preparations continue for Independence Day ceremonies

Lebanon's National Independence Day ceremonies will be held on Sunday. Preparations are still underway for the official ceremony that will be attended by President Elias Al-Hrawi and the country's top leaders,  government officials, and military figures.

As part of the Independence ceremonies, Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr, representing President Elias Al-Hrawi, will lay flower wreaths tomorrow on the tombs of the late President Bshara Al-Khoury and the late Prime Minister Riad Al-Solh. Flower wreaths will also be laid on the tombs of all the independence figures.

Meanwhile, preparations continue for President-elect General Emil Lahhoud's official accession to the presidency of the Republic on November 24. More Lebanese officials today praised the accomplishments achieved by President Elias Al-Hrawi during his term in office. They also noted the qualifications of the country's next of head of state.

Naturalization decree postponed for the next mandate

The fate of the naturalization decree was decided during a closed-door meeting between President Elias Al-Hrawi and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The two leaders later announced all discussions on the file would be postponed for the next presidential term.

Ministerial sources earlier stated that President Hrawi was determined to sign the decree but, the sources added, Prime Minister Hariri was reluctant to endorse it.

The decree is expected to grant the Lebanese citizenship to some 45,000 applicants, 40,000 of whom are Christians and 5,000 Muslims. The decree was highly criticized by a number of officials in the country who feared it would threaten national unity.

Sabaa opens conference of Arab News Agencies Union

The Union of Arab News Agencies today held its 26th general assembly meeting at the Royal Park Hotel. The meeting was opened by its patron, Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa.

The conference was also attended by the ambassadors of Egypt, Libya and Syria in addition to a number of government officials and media representatives.

In his speech, the Information Minister noted the different challenges of the coming century stressing the important role of the media in facing these challenges especially in the light of modern scientific and technological advances. Sabaa also praised the role of the union reiterating its success in a comprehensive media mission in the Arab world.

Israel escalates attacks on South Lebanon

Israeli warplanes today carried out air raids on the area extending between the villages of Touline and Qabreekha. Warplanes later today carried out mock air raids over Nabatieh and Iqlim Al-Touffah also reaching the skies of the capital.

In the meantime, Israel shelled the hills of Iqlim Al-Touffah. The bombardment mainly targeted Jabal Al-Rafii, Mazraat Okmata, Sojod, Al-Rayhan, and the outskirts of the village of Lowaizeh.

Lebanese security sources in the village of Tibnin today reported the Israeli attacks also targeted the area between Haddatha and the riverbanks of Litani.

Amal Movement launches retaliatory attacks on Israeli outposts

The Amal Resistance Movement today retaliated to the Israeli escalation by attacking a number of Israeli outposts alongside the buffer zone in the South. The Amal Movement during the day issued a statement saying its groups carried out operations targeting Israeli positions in Sojod, Swaydaa, Qalaat Shkeef, Salaa, Al-Qassir, Qantara, Baraasheet, Rshaf, Hardoun, and Radar.

The statement added direct hits were scored among Israeli soldiers and their allied militiamen in the operations. It also said the attacks caused considerable damage in a number of these outposts.

Dutch Foreign Ministry official holds talks with his Lebanese counterpart

The secretary general of the Lebanese Foreign Ministry Zafer Al-Hassan today met his Dutch counterpart at Boustros Palace. The diplomat later said discussions centered on ways to boost bilateral relations between the two countries.

Holland's foreign ministry official later stressed the importance of the peace process to the whole region. He also announced his country will grant educational scholarships for a number of students in Lebanon. He also expressed his happiness at KLM's recently launched air route from Amsterdam to Beirut.

For his part, Al-Hassan told reporters he held discussions with his Dutch counterpart on the recent developments in the Middle East in light of the Wye River Accord.

Holland's Foreign Ministry Secretary General is currently in Lebanon to participate in the opening of the new office of his country's embassy in Lebanon.

Sanyoura discusses bilateral ties with Holland

Acting Finance Minister Fouad Al-Sanyoura today received Holland's ambassador to Lebanon, Ronald Molinger. The meeting tackled possible ways to boost and develop bilateral relations between the two countries.

After the meeting, Holland's ambassador announced the two countries are seeking to activate their cooperation on a variety of levels. He added practical steps in this process were launched after Holland's participation in improving the performance of the Financial Training Institute in Lebanon.

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