News from Beirut November 30  1998 ...Search

Lahhoud to hold second round of parliamentary consultations as Hariri rejects his re-appointment

The Directorate General of the Presidency of the Lebanese Republic this morning issued a statement saying: In line with the second clause of Article 53 of the constitution and following the parliamentary consultations held between President Emil Lahhoud and MPs on November 26-27, President Lahhoud met House Speaker Nabih Berri on November 27 to brief him on the results. Lahhoud later that day met with Mr. Rafik Al-Hariri and re-appointed him as the country's next premier. But Hariri rejected the offer. Lahhoud accepted Hariri's decision and called for another series of parliamentary consultations to be held on Dec 1-2.

The presidential statement also said President Lahhoud will at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow start his consecutive meetings with House Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, former House Speaker Hussein Al-Husseini, former Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss, and Deputy House Speaker Elie Al-Firzli. Lahhoud will later hold consultations with parliamentary blocs. On Wednesday, Lahhoud will continue his meetings with independent MPs.

Lahhoud holds talks with Hariri at Baabda

Shortly after the presidential statement was issued from Baabda, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri headed to the presidential palace where he met President Emil Lahhoud over 20 minutes. Hariri did not make any statements to reporters while he was leaving the palace.

Meanwhile, more congratulatory messages today continued to pour in at Baabda wishing Lahhoud all success in his new mission. The president received letters from the presidents of the Republic of Chad, Columbia, the Czech Republic, and Mexico.

Berri stresses Lebanon is moving from good to better

House Speaker Nabih Berri today stressed Lebanon is moving from good to better adding there is no crisis in the country. Berri met today a number of deputies in parliament. Deputies quoted him as saying he phoned the premier several times in an attempt to convince Mr. Hariri to accept his reappointment but that did not happen.

Some deputies also told reporters in parliament Deputy Talal Al-Merhbi announced his own candidacy for the prime ministry. Merhbi later answered reporters by saying he was studying the subject.

Berri this afternoon headed a meeting of his parliamentary bloc of liberation and development to discuss the bloc's stance from the parliamentary consultations.

Earlier today, the speaker visited former Prime Minister Saeb Salam at his residence in the presence of his son, Deputy Tammam Salam. They held talks on recent developments in Lebanon and the region. On the situation in South Lebanon, Berri told reporters Israeli threats are not new to Lebanon adding this has been lasting since the year 1978.

Israeli attacks continue on South Lebanon

Israeli warplanes this morning carried out mock air raids over the area extending between Sidon, Zahrani, Tyre, Nabatieh, and Iqlim Al-Touffah.

Meanwhile, the Hizbullah Resistance Movement issued a statement saying one of its groups late last night carried out an operation against Israeli troops near the position of Al-Qobbaa. The attack damaged one Israeli military vehicle.

Netanyahu reiterates rejection of unilateral withdrawal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today reiterated his rejection of a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa. Netanyahu added his government is restudying its policy regarding "Israel's northern border". Netanyahu also said he has not heard any Israeli minister proposing a unilateral pullout.

But the Israeli Premier refused to give details on the discussions held during the Israeli cabinet session late yesterday. Meanwhile, Israeli newspapers said Israel's Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon is calling for a gradual withdrawal from South Lebanon. The newspapers also reported Israeli army commanders in addition to Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai reject any such idea.

Monitoring group looks into 15 complaints

The five-nation cease-fire panel in charge of monitoring the April 1996 Understanding this morning met at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura to look into 15 complaints filed by Lebanon and Israel over alleged violations of the truce agreement. Lebanon filed six complaints and Israel lodged nine others.

The Lebanese complaints center on Israeli shelling of the areas of Harees, Kfar Tibnit, Nabatieh Al-Faouqa, Jarjoua, and Baraasheet which resulted in the injury of three Lebanese civilians and the damage of a large number of civilian homes.

For its part, Israel lodged nine complaints alleging the Lebanese Resistance shelled Israeli outposts from civilian areas in southern villages.

Boueiz holds consultations with his Iranian counterpart

Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz today held talks over the phone with his Iranian counterpart, Kamal Kharazi. The two officials held consultations on the current situation in South Lebanon and Israel's daily attacks and threats on civilian areas. Kharazi expressed concern at the Israeli escalation. He also denounced the Israeli threats against Lebanon.

For his part, Foreign Minister Boueiz stressed the right of the resistance to defend their country against the occupation. Boueiz added Israel must withdraw from all occupied areas in Lebanon without conditions in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425.

Moussa stresses full implementation of Resolution 425

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa stressed the importance of Israel's abidance by UN Security Council Resolution 425, which calls for the immediate and unconditional pullout of Israeli troops from South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa. Moussa also reiterated his country's rejection for all conditions presented by the Israeli government to implement the resolution.

The Egyptian official also said Israel's occupation of South Lebanon has become very costly to Israel as a result of Lebanese resistance operations against the occupation. Moussa added any solution to the situation in the South lies in Israel's complete and unilateral withdrawal from occupied territories in Lebanon.

Qabbani reiterates unity of Lebanese-Syrian tracks

Following his meeting today with Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani reiterated the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks in the peace process. Qabbani also told reporters his discussions with Khaddam centered on Israel's recent threats to Lebanon, its continuous attacks on South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa, in addition to its expansionist settlement policy.

Qabbani also hailed Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad's ongoing support to Lebanon and its policies. He stressed the importance of ongoing coordination and cooperation between the two countries' leaderships and complete solidarity between their peoples in the face of Israeli threats and aggressions.

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