On New Year's Eve, Lebanese President Emil Lahhoud received a phone call from Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad. The Syrian leader congratulated Lahhoud and all the Lebanese on this occasion.
Assad also expressed his wishes of a better year for Lebanon, Syria, and the whole world.
House Speaker Nabih Berri and his accompanying official delegation are expected to hold a meeting later this evening with his Cuban counterpart in Havana. Since his arrival in the Communist island state, Berri held a series of meetings with government officials there that aim at boosting bilateral relations between the two countries.
The speaker stressed the necessity of increasing economic cooperation and investments between the two countries in light of the US embargo on Cuba and the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa.
From Havana, Berri reiterated Lebanon's call for the implementation of UN Resolution 425 which stipulates the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli troops from occupied territories in Lebanon.
At the Grand Saray, Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss today received Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani. Discussions centered on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region.
Hoss also held talks with the papal ambassador to Lebanon. The prime minister earlier received a well-wishing delegation of Lebanese officers and military personnel.
Israeli occupying troops this morning shelled areas in the western sector of the occupation zone. But no casualties or damage were reported in the attacks.
For its part, the Lebanese Resistance in the South issued a statement saying one of its groups attacked Israeli positions in Baraasheet and Kassarat Al-Aroush earlier today. The statement said direct hits were scored in the operations.
The Israeli inner security cabinet is scheduled to hold a session this evening to continue its discussions on the fate of Israeli troops in South Lebanon. This is the third meeting of the inner cabinet this week held over the subject of the South.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Radio today reported that Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai rejects any unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon, adding that any decision on this matter will not be taken before the upcoming Israeli elections.
Following cabinet's session yesterday, Information Minister Anwar Al-Khalil said the file of the audio-visual media would be studied carefully and scientifically without haste.
The Information Minister is currently preparing a report to present to cabinet on the media sector, with conditions at the state-run Tele Liban at the forefront. Mr. Khalil had once stated that the government was open to all solutions for the financially-strapped station.
Meanwhile, the media follow-up committee for unlicensed stations issued a statement calling on the government to issue the necessary legislation to activate bodies such as the National Audiovisual Media Council and the Broadcast Frequency Committee.
Health Minister Karam Karam today said his ministry will continue its special services for underprivileged citizens in the country. Karam added the ministry would take no austerity measures at the expense of the citizen's health.
The Health Minister was speaking to reporters in Bkirki after meeting Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nassrallah Boutros Sfeir. Karam also congratulated the Maronite Patriarch on the occasion of New Year and the holy season.
Minister of Public Works and Transportation Najib Meeqati today revealed the ministry was preparing a plan to fix the country's road networks during the coming year. He said he hoped to fulfil his New Year's resolution of a Lebanon without pothole-infested streets.
"There will be an emergency plan to rehabilitate coastal roads at first, moving on to mountain roads in the spring," he promised. Meeqati added he would hold a news conference to explain the plan in details once it is ready. Regarding continuing traffic congestion, the minister said he will discuss the issue with concerned officials to reach a logical solution to the problem as soon as possible.
Meeqati today held a meeting with MP Boutros Harb to discuss the 1999 state budget and other future projects.
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