News from Beirut December 15  1998 ...Search

Parliament studies ministerial statement Wednesday and Thursday

The Lebanese Parliament will reconvene Wednesday and Thursday in morning and afternoon sessions to study the ministerial policy statement read by Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss yesterday. Parliament is then expected to give the new government the vote of confidence.

While most deputies were reluctant to comment on the government's statement before examining it in detail, they nonetheless appeared to favor the outlined policies, pending further elaboration on key points. But a number of deputies complained that the statement failed to make clear how the government intended to implement its targeted reforms.

For his part, Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss told visitors at the Grand Saray he would visit the Syrian capital after parliament gives his government the vote of confidence. Government sources also revealed Hoss might delay his planned Arab tour until after the month of Ramadan.

French delegation reiterates support to Lebanon

The visiting official French delegation today continued talks with Lebanese officials. The delegation, which represents the French Socialist Party, is headed by party official Pierre Guiduni.

Guiduni stressed to Lebanese reporters the necessity of Israel's unconditional withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in implementation of UN Resolution 425. The delegation also reiterated France's support to Lebanon and its new leadership.

The delegation yesterday met President Emil Lahhoud at Baabda and Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss at the Grand Saray. Discussions centered on the general situation in Lebanon and recent developments in the Middle East peace process in addition to bilateral cooperation between Lebanon and France.

The delegation's scheduled four-day visit is the first official visit by French Socialist Party officials to Lebanon.

Polish military delegation tours Lebanese officials

A Polish military delegation headed by Poland's Army chief of staff is in Lebanon for talks with Lebanese officials.

The delegation held talks with President Emil Lahhoud at Baabda in the presence of the Polish ambassador to Lebanon. The delegation later met Acting Army Commander, Samir Al-Qhadi in Yarzeh.

Discussions centered on bilateral ties and the possibility of military cooperation between Lebanon and Poland. The delegation also visited Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nassrallah Boutros Sfeir at Bkirki.

Satterfield studies investment opportunities in Lebanon

The US ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield held a meeting with officials at the Beirut Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss possible business and investment opportunities in Lebanon.

The chamber's head, Adnan Al-Qassar thanked the US ambassador for working on boosting economic cooperation between Lebanon and the US.

Transportation Minister discusses cooperation with Canada

Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Najib Meeqati held discussions with a Canadian delegation on its offer to modernize and develop the civil aviation safety center at Beirut's International Airport.

Meeqati is expected to hold further talks on the offer with a committee representing local authorities in the aviation sector. The project aims at rehabilitating the center according to international standards.

Hariri back in Beirut Thursday for confidence vote session

Former Prime Minister, Beirut MP Rafik Al-Hariri is today in Morocco for talks with officials there.

Hariri earlier visited Saudi Arabia where he met King Fahd Bin Abdel Aziz and Crown Prince Abdullah. In the Saudi capital, Hariri told reporters he would cooperate with the new leadership in Lebanon for the sake of his country. Hariri reiterated he had no personal conflict with President Emil Lahhoud.

The former prime minister will be back in Beirut for cabinet's confidence vote session in parliament on Thursday. Members of Mr. Hariri's parliamentary bloc yesterday said the bloc was likely to abstain from the vote of confidence in the new cabinet.

Israeli attacks continue on the South

Israeli occupying troops early today shelled the outskirts of the villages of Haddatha, Harees and Ayta Al-Jabal in the central sector of the occupation zone. The bombardment later targeted the villages of Yater, Seddikeen and the Assi area.

For its part, the Lebanese Resistance in the South announced in a statement its groups carried out operations against Israeli outposts in Ahmadieh, Jammouseh and Rshaf destroying a military vehicle and inflicting casualties among Israeli soldiers.

Mordechai renews proposal on conditional withdrawal

Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai late yesterday renewed a proposal to conditionally pullout Israeli troops from occupied territories in South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa.

Mordechai was speaking after a meeting he held in Israel with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to discuss his proposal. Mordechai reiterated Israel will implement UN Resolution 425 on condition Beirut proceeds with a significant army deployment in the South that is capable of preventing attacks against Israel. Mordechai added this would enable Israel to unilaterally withdraw from Lebanon.

Palestinians in Lebanon denounce Arafat's peace policies

Palestinian refugees in different camps across Lebanon held strikes to protest the deletion of clauses in the Palestinian National Charter that call for Israel's destruction.

Protestors in the camps of Shatila, Ain Al-Helwa, and other camps in Baalback and Northern Lebanon burned pictures of Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat as well as Israeli and US flags in clear denunciation to US President Bill Clinton's visit to Gaza.

The demonstrators carried banners saying annulling the Palestinian National Charter is an "act of treason" and denouncing Yasser Arafat's peace polices. They also called for freeing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

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