Iraqi foreign minister Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahhaf yesterday called from Beirut not to allow Arab land to host tools that kill Iraqi people. Al-Sahhaf held talks with top Lebanese leaders regarding Iraq's stance from the crisis with the UN and the US. The Iraqi foreign minister later heads to Paris were he is expected to hold similar talks with French President Jacques Chirac. In Beirut's International Airport, Al-Sahhaf denied the possibility of meeting UN chief Kofi Annan during his Paris visit.
Al-Sahhaf carried a letter to president Elias Al-Hrawi from his Iraqi counterpart Saddam Hussein explaining the Iraqi-US-UN standoff and exploring the possibility of a US military strike against Iraq. At the presidential palace in Baabda, Al-Sahhaf quoted president Hrawi as saying Lebanon's clearly supports diplomatic efforts in solving the crisis. After holding similar talks with House Speaker Nabih Berri, Al-Sahhaf headed to the government palace where he convened with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. Al-Sahhaf told reporters at the government palace discussions with Hariri centered on the expected visit of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Baghdad. The Iraqi diplomat later headed to Boustrous palace were he held discussions with his Lebanese counterpart Faris Boueiz. After the meeting, Al-Sahhaf stressed his country will continue efforts to resolve the crisis politically and diplomatically. He added his country has been implementing UN resolutions for seven years hoping the economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait will be lifted.
Kuwait's Planning Minister Ali Fahd Al-Zoumeih discussed with Lebanese officials his country's view of the current crisis in Iraq. At Baabda, he handed president Elias Al-Hrawi a letter from Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sobbah. Al-Zoumeih held Iraq responsible for a 20-year period of mounting tension in the region. The Kuwaiti minister hoped UN Chief Kofi Annan's expected visit to Iraq will be fruitful and successful adding his country would be the first to be harmed if tension continues in the area.
After holding talks with House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, Al-Zoumeih said Lebanon and Kuwait hold similar views regarding the necessity of a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Iraq.
Prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri held discussions over the phone with Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amro Moussa and Arab League Secretary General Ismat Abdel Majid. His talks with the three officials centered on the current Iraqi crisis and ways to resolve the problem diplomatically. At the government palace, Hariri received deputies Jacques-Joe Khaderian, Assem Qansou, Qabalan Issa Al-Khouri, Bahaa Eddine Itani, Mahmud Awwad, Wajih Al-Baarini, Elias Al-Khazen, Antoine Haddad, Habib Hakim, Ahmad Fatfat, Antoine Andrauos and Mansour Ghanem Al-Boun. The Iraqi situation toped all discussion. The Lebanese premier later discussed regional developments with Minister of Information Bassem Al-Sabbaa and Health Minister Suleiman Franjieh. He also held talks with deputy Bahiyya Al-Hariri on issues related to teachers' demands.
House Speaker Nabih Berri yesterday opening a Labour Education Symposium in Beirut. The conference in organized by the General Labor Confederation in collaboration with the Arab Labour Organization. Minister of Labor Asaad Hardan represented Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri in the opening. After speeches by the head of the GLC, Ghaneim Al-Zoghbi, and the Arab Labour Organization Representative Wajih Taha, House Speaker Nabih Berri said stressed the importance of the recent economic agreement between Lebanon and Syria signed by Lebanese premier Rafik Al-Hariri and Syrian Prime Minister Mahmud Al-Zohbi. Berri hoped such an agreement would be considered as a model to be followed by Arab countries in the pursuit of an Arab Common Market. The House Speaker further reiterated Lebanon's stance regarding Israel which calls on it to implement resolution 425 by unconditionally withdrawing from South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa.
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