Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's two-day visit to Malaysia aimed at developing bilateral economic relations. Hariri who was accompanied by acting finance minister Fouad Senyoura, was greeted at the airport by Malaysian prime minister Mahatir Mohammed and Foreign minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. This is Hariri's second visit in three years. During his visit, Hariri held talks with his Malaysian counterpart Mahatir Mohammed.
Discussions centered on recent developments in the Middle East and the economic crisis that struck the countries of South-East Asia. Hariri and Mohammed signed an agreement of media cooperation between the two countries. For the Lebanese part, Senyoura and two economic advisors, Abdel Latif Al-Shammaa and Bassil Fleihan were present. The Malaysian foreign minister along with the minister of information were also present during the signing. The agreement aims at exchanging news reports, political programs and documentaries between the two countries whether political, social or economic. After the meeting, the Lebanese premier praised the special ties between the two countries adding his visit was aimed at boosting these ties and signing more bilateral agreements, mainly regarding investment and protection. For his part, Mohammed voiced his country's interest in investing in Lebanon's different sectors especially tourism. He also reiterated Malaysia's bid to participate in Lebanon's reconstruction program.
During his visit, prime minister Hariri also met the King of Malaysia Twanko Jaafar. Discussions centered on bilateral ties and the general situation in both countries. Trade relations between the two countries remained modest, 22 million dollars in 1996, with Malaysia importing only 300,000 dollars worth of Lebanese goods.
The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group which met lately at the United Nations Interim Forces' headquarters in Naqoura failed to give a final statement. The committee had convened to discuss three Lebanese complaints.
Lebanon filed the first compliant over the killing of a woodcutter, Mohammed Khalil Ibrahim, 45, by a roadside bomb planted on the outskirts of his village in Majdel Zoun on February 5. The second complaint accuses Israeli forces of bombing the Yater region with mortar shells and machine gun fire on February 6, injuring one resident, Nazem Atef Kaddouh and damaging three residential buildings. A third compliant was submitted during the meeting concerning the wounding of Mahmoud Ali Toumeh, 17, who is now suffering from brain seizure.
Israel continues its siege on the village of Dhayra in side the zone it occupies in South Lebanon. The village has been besieged for a whole week with Israeli forces forbidding entry to or exist from Dhayra. During the last two weeks, Israel detained two residents from the village, the bothers Ibrahim and Khaled Abu-Sari who were alter taken to the Khiam detention center.
In another development, Israeli forces also detained an Israeli allied militia official from the village of Kfar Kila, Ahmad Abdel Jalil. He was detained on charges of drug dealing and was alter led to the Khiam prison.
Israel also continues its siege on the village of Adayseh for a third week. One resident, Manal Ibrahim, 24, was also taken from her home in the village to be detained in Khiam. Meanwhile, Israeli inspections continue in the southern village of Shibaa and in the two villages of Ferdays and Hebbareyeh in Hasbayyah.
United Nations Secretary general Kofi Annan canceled his planned ten-day visit to the region. His visit was planned to begin tomorrow. In Lebanon, Annan was expected to inaugurate the new UN headquarters of ESCWA in Beirut?s Central District. The secretary general's office in New York issued a statement saying the decision was due to the urgent situation in Iraq as a result of the Iraqi-UN standoff. Annan's visit which was to include Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the Gaza Strip would have been Annan's first to the region since taking office in January 1997.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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