Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss has announced the names of ministers in the new 16-seat cabinet:
Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss today commented on statements made by former premier Rafik Al-Hariri during a press conference he held yesterday at Kraytem.
The former premier yesterday responded to a question on whether he thought Hoss' reappointment as an extension of a constitutional violation by saying, "If I were in Mr. Hoss' place, I would have refused the appointment" adding that the decision to refuse his re-appointment came out of principle.
Hoss expressed astonishment at Mr. Hariri's response saying he earlier explained the whole issue during a meeting he held with the former premier adding that Hariri told him the whole issue was over.
Outgoing Minister of State for Finance, Fouad Sanyoura today held a press conference to counter claims that classified documents at the ministry had been destroyed or stolen in an attempt to conceal alleged irregularities in ministry's conduct.
Sanyoura strongly denied the accusations saying the documents were being removed from the ministry's old offices and taken to the new headquarters at Nijmeh Square.
After meeting the new premier in parliament yesterday, Sanyoura told reporters he regreted the spread of such rumors during the government's transitional phase. "It is unfortunate that such low rumors take place against a person who worked day and night for six years at the ministry and denied himself everything," he stressed. He added that there are filed copies of all documents in the ministry's archives.
Prosecutor General Adnan Addoum yesterday ordered security agents to investigate the allegations. In his statement, Judge Addoum said the probes were prompted by information relayed to the judiciary.
The US Ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield, today voiced his country's support for the new government. Satterfield told reporters, "We are looking forward to work with the new government." Asked about the next cabinet make-up, the US diplomat said this is purely an internal matter that is of interest to the Lebanese government.
The US ambassador this morning visited former Prime Minister Saeb Salam at his residence in Msaytbeh. The meeting was attended by Deputy Tammam Salam and a number of officials at the embassy. Satterfield later said discussions centered on the work of the Makassed Foundation headed by Salam, and the general situation in the country. On the situation in South Lebanon, Satterfield stressed his country is holding contacts with all concerned parties urging them to take all possible steps to reduce tension in the southern situation.
Israeli warplanes this morning carried out two consecutive raids on the area of Habboush. The warplanes launched three air-to-ground missiles but no casualties were reported. An Israeli military spokesman later reported the attack. The raids came amid intensive flights and mock air raids carried out over the villages of Nabatieh and Iqlim Al-Touffah.
Meanwhile, Israeli occupying troops today shelled the outskirts of the villages of Habboush, Qabreekha, Touline, Kfar Roumman and the riverbanks of Zahrani. Bombardment also targeted the hills of Iqlim Al-Touffah, mainly intensifying over Sojod, Rayhan, Jabal Al-Rafii and Mazraat Okmata.
Shelling on Baraasheet and the outskirts of Nabatieh caused damage in a number of civilian homes in the area.
For its part, the Lebanese Resistance announced one of its groups carried out an operation against the Israeli position in the village of Qantara. The statement added the group launched more than 10 shells on the outpost, scoring direct hits in the attack. Other resistance groups also attacked today a number of Israeli outposts in the South.
A poll conducted recently in Israel was today revealed saying four out of five Israelis believe that their government should exert more efforts to pullout its troops from South Lebanon. The poll also specified 81% of Israelis support an Israeli withdrawal, 13% oppose the idea, and 6% had no opinion on the subject.
The percentage of Israelis supporting a unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon has doubled during the last six months reaching 40% according to another poll earlier published by the Maariv Israeli daily.
Chile's embassy in Beirut announced an economic and trade delegation from Chile arrived in Lebanon yesterday as part of a Mideast tour that includes Syria and Jordan.
The delegation is headed by the head of the Middle East and Africa Department at the Chilean Foreign Ministry. The delegation also includes a group of Chilean businessmen who represent the various economic sectors in the country. Also among the delegation are two businessmen of Lebanese origin, Patricio Ghaleb and Antonio Saad, who will visit their homeland for the first time. They are delegates of the Chilean-Lebanese Chamber of Commerce.
During their visit to the country, the delegation inaugurated Chile's first Mideast trade office in Beirut. The Lebanese office will also cover Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq. It is also expected to expand its mission to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey.
Minister of Trade and Economy, Yassin Jaber received an official economic delegation from the Hebei province in China accompanied by the Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon. The ambassador said Lebanon has an important trade role to play in the region. He added the delegation would meet the union of economic chambers in Lebanon and a number of economic figures in the private sector.
During its stay in Lebanon, the Chinese delegation also aims at selling low-cost materials for local manufacturers. The delegation is composed of representatives of a dozen state-owned companies specialized in export-import.
A number of delegates also represent Chinese firms that cover almost everything from makers of carpets to heavy and light machinery, chemicals and kitchenware. Their visit to Lebanon is part of a tour of the Middle East and Europe, which has already taken them to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
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