Cabinet meets today at Baabda in a session headed by President Emil Lahhoud and attended by Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss and the ministers. This is the first meeting of the cabinet after the new government was given the vote of confidence in parliament last week.
Today's cabinet meeting is expected to mark the beginning of discussions on the process of bureaucratic reform through appointments to fill posts in the country's supervisory bodies and a range of administrative, security, and military positions. A number of economic and political files are also on the agenda of talks. The meeting might also tackle the financial and administrative difficulties faced by the state-run Tele Liban.
At the Baabda palace, President Emil Lahhoud this morning received a delegation from the National Committee for Women Affairs in Lebanon including former First Lady Mona Hrawi and House Speaker Nabih Berri's wife, Randa Berri. Lahhoud later met Zahle's Roman Catholic Archbishop Andre Haddad.
On the occasion of New Year and the Muslim month of Ramadan, Lahhoud received a greeting cable from Tunisian President Zein Alaabideen Bin Ali and a similar letter from Kuwaiti Information Minister Youssef Mohammed Al-Sumeit.
House Speaker Nabih Berri today stressed reform is an ongoing process which started today during the first cabinet meeting. He added administrative reform cannot be implemented without political reform.
Berri also reiterated the importance of national unity in the face of all foreign intervention. The speaker also called on all countries to cooperate with Lebanon. Berri was speaking during a meeting he held in parliament with a delegation from the Editors' Syndicate headed by Melhem Karam.
Israeli occupying troops in South Lebanon this morning bombarded areas in Hasbayya, the Western Bekaa, Jabal Al-Dahr, and Ain Fjour. Israeli attacks originating from the Ahmadiyyeh outpost also targeted the riverbanks of Litani and the outskirts of Qelya where a home belonging to Lebanese civilian Ali Salman Nasser was damaged.
Later during the day, the Lebanese Resistance carried out an operation against an Israeli tank that was shelling civilian villages from the Israeli position in Ain Qenya. A resistance statement announced the tank was completely destroyed and the outpost was later subject to heavy resistance fire.
The Hizbullah Resistance Movement had announced that two of its members, Wafik Zahweh and Abdel Rasoul Baydoun, were killed late Friday night in a battle with Israeli commandos near Tallousa in the central sector of the occupation zone.
Following a meeting held yesterday at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura, the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group ratified all Lebanese complaints filed to the panel over Israeli attacks on civilian villages in Haddatha, Jbaa, and Shaqra where a 17-year-old civilian Lebanese was killed.
The group condemned the killing of the boy in Shaqra as a breach of the April 1996 Understanding. Israeli helicopter gunships last week shot and killed the boy two kilometers to the south of Majdel Selem. Lebanon had also protested Israel's sonic boom air raids over Beirut and the coastal cities two weeks ago. Other Lebanese complaints were filed over damage to houses in Baraasheet and Haddatha due to Israeli shelling.
For its part, Israel had lodged two complaints to the group alleging that the resistance launched attacks on Israeli outposts in the South from civilian populated areas.
The British Ambassador to Lebanon, David Ross MacLenin today visited the Secretary General of the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, Zafer Al-Hassan at Boustros Palace.
MacLenin later told reporters he briefed the Lebanese official on the outcome of the US-British military operation against Iraq. MacLenin also described Desert Fox Operation as highly successful in setting back Iraq's military capabilities. Also among the visitors of Boustros Palace today was the Brazilian Ambassador to Lebanon.
Cooperation between Italy and Lebanon's television stations topped discussions between the Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, Guiseppe Cassini and the Lebanese Minister of Information Anwar Al-Khalil. Cassini suggested boosting cooperation between Italy's Rai television and state-run Tele Liban.
Cassini also held talks with the Minister of Education and Culture Mohammed Youssef Baydoun on a project to preserve the historical monuments of Jbeil and restore the city's museum.
The Italian Ambassador is scheduled to visit tomorrow Minister of Oil and Hydraulics Suleiman Traboulsi. Discussions will tackle Italian-Lebanese cooperation in the electricity sector.
Minister of Economy and Trade, Nasser Al-Saiidi announced over the weekend the annual shopping festival will be postponed from February until May in a bid to combine the festival with the tourism season and May seemed to be the best month for this, according to Saiidi.
Former Minister of Economy and Trade, Yassin Jaber had announced in November a decision to extend the previously held February shopping festival into January and March. There would have been thus 99 cut-price shopping days in the festival which would have coincided with the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when most Muslim Lebanese expatriates return to spend the Fiter holiday with their families.
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