As part of his consultation tour, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri held talks with Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr and a number of ministers. Al-Murr presented the premier a number of suggestions concerning possible ways for collecting more funds which enable the war displaced to return to their villages and homes.
Health Minister Suleiman Franjieh and Immigrants Minister Talal Arslan also held similar discussions with Hariri at the government palace. But both ministers did not wish to reveal their suggestions to reporters at the palace. Minister Mahmud Abu-Hamdan discussed with the premier recent cabinet decisions which allocated the Baalbeck, Hermel, and Akkar areas with a sum of 50 LLbn for road rehabilitation projects. Sources close to the premier said he is expected to meet President Elias Al-Hrawi as soon as his health improves.
He is also scheduled to meet former prime minister Salim Al-Hoss among other ministers. Government sources added Hariri's consultation tour will last for ten days. The sources also revealed that cabinet's session scheduled for today will not be held due to President Hrawi's bad health conditions.
37 clauses were expected to top the agenda of talks which will mainly center on recent regional developments and current economic and social conditions in the country.
The Lebanese premier met with the International Red Cross Representative in Lebanon John Jacques Fresard. Discussions centered on a possible agreement to exchange bodies of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon during the failed Ansariyeh commando operation with Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails.
After the meeting, Fresard said he handed the premier a letter from the premier who in return delivered another letter to the ICRC representative.
But Fresard did not reveal the contents of any of the two letters. Fresard only said discussions on a possible swap are very complicated and they need more time.
A delegation from the German Federal Parliament or the Bundestag held talks with Lebanese top officials on ways to boost ties between their parliament and the Lebanese and Arab parliaments. The delegation held talks with House Speaker Nabih Berri regarding the situation in South Lebanon and the region.
The German delegation later reiterated their support for UN resolution 425 which calls on Israel to unconditionally withdraw from South Lebanon. They also expressed sorrow for the delay in the implementation of the resolution. The delegation then visited prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri.
They noted the real difference between Lebanon today and Lebanon during the war especially that they visited the country during that period. They also praised the country's reconstruction drive. The delegation earlier held talks at Boustrous Palace with Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz. Discussions centered on bilateral ties between Lebanon and Germany and the Middle East peace process.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir received the Kuwaiti ambassador to Lebanon Abdel Razzak Al-Kandari who carried his country's congratulations for the Christians in Lebanon on the occasion of the beginning of the Christian fasting month. Al-Kandari later said discussions centered on recent developments in the Iraqi crisis in light of the deal signed between the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraq's deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz. The Kuwaiti ambassador said his country sees the agreement as a step towards reducing mounting tension in the region.
Al-Kandari also reiterated his country's stance which stresses Arab unity as a basic step for its integration in the new world order.
Public Works Minister Ali Harajli yesterday held a press conference at the ministry's headquarters in Beirut highlighting the ministry's work during the year 1007. Harajli told the press conference his ministry could accomplish a lot despite many difficulties. 60 projects were carried out last year in different Lebanese areas. He also discussed possible ways of spending the 50 LLbn allocated by cabinet to the rehabilitation of roads in the Baalbeck, Hermel, and Akkar areas. Harajli concluded by discussing his ministry's plans for the near future which mainly concentrate on improving maintenance programs and the developing the ministry's administration.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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