President Emil Lahhoud today stressed the importance of monetary stability in the country. Lahhoud was speaking during a meeting with a delegation from the Banks Association in Lebanon. The president also reiterated his concern for the preservation of banking secrecy.
At the presidential palace Lahhoud held a number of diplomatic meetings. He first held talks with the British Ambassador to Lebanon, David MacLenin. He also met the Chinese Ambassador in a farewell visit.
Lahhoud also received the ambassadors of Canada and Kazakhastan. The latter handed the president a letter from his counterpart in Kazakhastan in which he expressed support to Lebanon. For his part, Lahhoud expressed his will to encourage bilateral economic ties between the two countries.
Lahhoud also received a congratulatory message on his election from the Director General of the International Monetary Fund who stressed the fund's commitment to boosting ties with Lebanon in the near future. The IMF official also hoped he will meet Lahhoud soon for talks on cooperation policies with Lebanon.
House Speaker Nabih Berri reiterated parliament's commitment to find solutions to the problems resulting from increased foreign debt and ways to formulate a new policy to reduce those debts and minimize expenditure.
Berri was speaking during a ceremony held on the occasion of the regional declaration of the UNICEF report. In his speech, Berri revealed Israel has recently laid hand upon some 4,000 square meters of land from the village of Markaba.
The UNICIF conference highlighted the problems of child labor in the world. Speakers reiterated the rights of children to free education.
The ministerial committee charged with preparing the government's policy statement was in session at noon today at the Grand Saray. Headed by Prime Minister Salim Al-Hoss, the committee continued studying reports by new ministers, each of whom was charged of assessing the general situation of his ministry, outlining problems and recommending solutions and future policies.
The committee is expected to lay the final touches on the draft statement during a meeting tomorrow. Meanwhile, cabinet is expected to meet Friday evening to ratify the policy statement. Prime Minister Hoss and House Speaker Nabih Berri are then to set a date for the confidence vote session in parliament, which is expected next Tuesday.
The six-member committee is made up of Mr. Hoss and incoming ministers Michel Al-Murr, Issam Naaman, Mohammed Youssef Baydoun, George Qorom and Nasser Saiidi.
Prime Minister-designate Salim Al-Hoss is expected to tour a number of Arab countries to discuss recent developments in Lebanon and activate the subject of Arab financial support to Lebanon. Government sources said Hoss will start the tour after his government is granted the confidence vote in parliament.
The sources added Hoss also aims to brief Arab businessmen and investors on the stable economic and financial situation in Lebanon in addition to the developments witnessed in the country's economy. His discussions with Arab leaders are also expected to focus on bilateral ties and the Mideast peace process.
The French government yesterday reiterated its ongoing support to Lebanon. The French Assistant Foreign Ministry Spokesman said Lebanon's backing was part of his country's fixed foreign policy principles.
The Foreign Ministry official also said France's ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Jouanneau was the first diplomat to meet Prime Minister-designate Salim Al-Hoss following his appointment. The spokesman also said Jouanneau extended his country's congratulations to the new government and reiterated backing for Lebanon.
Prime Minister-designate Salim Al-Hoss was handed the foreign affairs portfolio from outgoing Minister Faris Boueiz during a ceremony held at Boustros Palace. The former minister listed the accomplishments made during the past eight years. Hoss stressed the country's commitment to its foreign policy principles.
The prime minister reiterated Lebanon's call on Israel to implement UN Resolution 425 without conditions. He also repeated Lebanon's commitment to support the Lebanese resistance against the occupying forces.
Hoss also stressed the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks in the peace process, adding the government will work on boosting and developing the already brotherly ties between the two countries. He also vowed maintaining the best relations with friendly countries.
In his capacity as foreign minister, Prime Minister Hoss held a business meeting with the ministry's Secretary General Zafer Al-Hassan. He also held talks with the Cuban ambassador to Lebanon who handed him a letter from Cuban President Fidel Castro reiterating his country's support to Lebanon in all fields. Hoss received a similar letter from Azerbijan's President, Haider Aliyev.
Government sources said Hoss will be spending one workday per week at Boustros Palace. He will be assisted by the Foreign Ministry's Secretary who will be representing him at the ministry's headquarters.
At the Ministry of the War Displaced, Minister Anwar Al-Khalil today held a series of business meetings with ministry officials in a bid to inspect the work of its different offices and departments.
Similar business meetings were held at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication between incoming Minister Issam Naaman and the ministry's top officials and heads of departments.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister George Qorom received the head of the Arab Fund Delegation for Economic Development, Mervat Badawi. Discussions centered on ways of cooperation between the finance ministry and the Arab Fund through possible developmental and economic aid.
For his part, Public Works Minister Najib Meeqati held talks with the Azeri ambassador to Lebanon on ways to boost economic ties and air links between the two countries. The ambassador said there is one condition for boosting bilateral ties; i.e., the opening of bilateral air routes in implementation of an agreement that was earlier signed between Lebanon and Azerbijan.
Meeqati promised to study the file as soon as possible.Meanwhile, handing over ceremonies between new ministers and their former counterpart concluded today.
US Health Minister, Donna Shalala described Lebanon as a wonderful country calling on all Lebanese living in the US to come here and invest in their country.
Shalala also expressed confidence in US President Bill Clinton's deep feelings for Lebanon. She said Clinton is committed to peace and he is adamant that moves should not stop at the Wye Agreement.
Shalala was speaking to students at the American University in Beirut in the presence of her Lebanese counterpart, Karam Karam and the US ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield. The US Minister emphasized that all Lebanese students should received the blessing of a 21st century education. Shalala also toured the Lebanese American University in the capital.
Israeli attacks on South Lebanon today continued unabated. Israeli occupying forces early today shelled the outskirts of the towns of Ayta Al-Jabal, Haddatha, Baraasheet, Jabal Al-Zaatar, Qabreekha, Yater, Harees and Beit Yahoun. The shelling was accompanied by heavy inspection flights over the South, which intensified during the day and earlier last night over the city of Sidon and other southern coastal areas. Israeli planes also broke the sound barrier several times today over the capital.
For its part, the Lebanese Resistance carried out operations against Israeli outposts in Sojod, Blat and Baraasheet.
Meanwhile, the international cease-fire panel was in session at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura to look into two complaints, one filed by Lebanon and another by Israel. The Lebanese complaint centers on Israeli shelling of the southern village of Haddatha, which caused damaged in a civilian home there. It also objects to the injury of a Lebanese fisherman off the coast of Tyre when his boat was attacked by Israeli navy forces.
For its part, Israel lodged a complaint over alleged resistance attacks on Israeli outposts launched from civilian areas in the South.
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