News from Beirut November 3  1998 ...Search

Hrawi praises Lahhoud's capabilities expecting a bright future for the country

In a press interview, Lebanese President Elias Al-Hrawi today praised the qualifications and capabilities of president-elect General Emil Lahhoud. Hrawi stressed Lahhoud is capable of solving the many problems that prevail in the country. He also reiterated that he has always opposed any extension or renewal of his term in office. Hrawi expected the economic situation in the country to improve in the upcoming phase.

The president told Nahar Al-Shabab he has always sought to abolish political sectarianism in the country adding he sent parliament a message seven months ago calling for the formation of the higher committee to abolish sectarianism.

On occupied South Lebanon, Hrawi said the southerners have always paid the price of Israeli occupation. Hrawi said the government is seeking to liberate the South and the Western Bekaa in all possible means reiterating Lebanon's call for the implementation of UN Resolution 425.

Hrawi and Berri discuss recent local developments

At the presidential palace in Baabda, President Elias Al-Hrawi today held talks with House Speaker Nabih Berri on the latest developments in the country and the region.

Presidential sources said the two leaders will continue their discussions on the important local files during other upcoming meetings.

Cabinet studies illicit wealth project tomorrow

Cabinet will hold its weekly session tomorrow at the Baabda Presidential Palace. The meeting will be headed by President Elias Al-Hrawi and attended by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and the ministers. A justice ministry project to combat illicitly gained wealth by Lebanese officials is expected to top the agenda of talks. The draft bill is expected to be ratified by ministers during the session. This after a ministerial committee charged with studying the bill finalized all discussions in this regard.

Also at the session, government sources said Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri will present for discussion the subject of Israel's theft of fertile soil from areas in the occupied zone to be carried into the Jewish State for agricultural purposes. The issue was earlier raised by House Speaker Nabih Berri in letters he sent to UN officials and world parliamentarians calling for an immediate halt of such aggressive activities.

Hariri heads to Paris and later to Cairo

Following cabinet's meeting tomorrow, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri is due to head to Paris for talks with French President Jacques Chirac. During his visit, which will last for a few days, the Lebanese premier will hold consultations with Chirac over the current developments in the region in light of the Wye Plantation Accord signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat and the expected US diplomatic efforts that aim at restarting peace negotiations on the Syrian-Lebanese tracks.

Also in Paris, Hariri will tackle the role of the European Union, especially France, in pushing the peace process forward and in activating the Syrian-Lebanese tracks.

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Hariri is scheduled to arrive in Cairo for a three-day visit where he will hold discussions with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Prime Minister Kamal Al-Janzouri on the Mideast situation. In the same regard, Hariri will give a lecture at the University of Cairo on November 10 to discuss developments on the regional level.

Israeli attacks continue on the South and the Western Bekaa

Israeli occupying forces today continued their daily attacks on South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa. Shells fell on the outskirts of Wadi Al-Qaisseiyeh and Sawwaneh. Heavy artillery bombardment also targeted the villages of Qabreekha, Gmaijmeh, Kherbet Selem, and Touline. The Western Bekaa villages of Zellaya, Qelya, Ain Al-Teeneh were also subject to heavy Israeli shelling causing damage in two civilian homes belonging to Hussein Ahmad and Mohammed Ibrahim Hussein.

For its part, the Lebanese Resistance Movement retaliated by detonating a bomb at the entrance of the Israeli outpost in Mashaaroun scoring direct hits in the operation. Resistance groups also attacked today the positions of Sojod and Tallousa.

Israeli navy forces escalate aggressions against fishermen

The Israeli navy today opened heavy fire on Lebanese boats fishing in southern waters. Some boats were even shelled; one of which was almost destroyed. The two fishermen onboard were miraculously saved.

The Israeli navy also detained a boat with its two fishermen onboard. They were later freed after being subjected to investigations and physical torture. The two fishermen had to be hospitalized for treatment.

In this regard, the head of the fishermen syndicate Mohammed Bawwab today called on the world opinion to pressure Israel to stop its daily piracy on the southern coast. He also called on the Lebanese government to pay compensations for fishermen and their families who are being prevented from earning a living in their country's waters.

Indian Battalion arrives in a few weeks

The Indian Battalion which will replace the Norwegian troops working under the UN Interim Forces in South Lebanon is scheduled to arrive in Lebanon during the first half of this month. UNIFIL sources said the Indian battalion consists of 618 soldiers and officers. Norway earlier decided to pull out its troops from South Lebanon for internal reasons.

The battalion will be handed its mission officially on November 28. India sent international monitors during the year 1958 to watch the implementation of the truce agreement on the Lebanese-Israeli border. This is the second time India participates in peacekeeping missions in Lebanon.

Greenpeace urges Bekaa municipalities to pressure CDR on landfills

The Greenpeace Mediterranean Office today appealed to all municipalities in the Bekaa to pressure the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) so that planned waste landfills in the area do not become environmental hotspots.

A Greenpeace press release said the CDR is planning to build one "sanitary landfill" between Zahle and Bar Elias and one in Baalbek. Construction has already begun near Zahle. Official sources earlier told Greenpeace that "no industrial nor hospital waste will be admitted in the landfill".

But Greenpeace believes organic wastes will end up in them and pollute groundwater reservoirs and the whole atmosphere. Several linings would be constructed in the landfills, but no lining holds forever because it would eventually crack under the pressure of millions of tons of waste and due to chemical reactions in it.

The "Association for Environmental and Heritage Protection" and the "Charity Youth Club" in Baalbeck invited Greenpeace to inspect the area where the landfill near their historic city is to be built. Greenpeace officials voiced their appeal to Bekaa municipalities to pressure the CDR to make the necessary corrections in their waste management plans, or else they would lead to polluting landfills in the valley.

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