News from Beirut March 12  1998 ...Search

Hariri explained purpose of consultations

At the government palace, prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri today received a delegation from the editors' syndicate in Lebanon headed by Melhem Karam in the presence of Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa. Hariri explained to the delegation the aims of the consultations he has been holding with officials in the country. The premier told the visiting delegation that by holding consultations with Lebanese political, social, economic, and spiritual leaders, he has three aims in mind: to explain the achievements made in the country since he took office in 1992, to discuss alternative proposals presented from a wide range of Lebanese figures in a bid to solve social and economic problems, and finally to speculate on future projects and plans. The premier added his government had been following a four-point plan to increase revenue and improve social spending. Responding to a question on recent Israeli maneuvers concerning UN Security Council Resolution 425, the premier warned against cooperation with Israel against Syria saying this will be detrimental to Lebanon?s sovereignty.

As part of his consultations, Hariri also met a delegation representing audio-visual media stations in Lebanon in the presence of his advisor Nuhad Al-Mashnook. Sources close to the meeting said discussions did not tackle the media file adding another meeting was scheduled for this purpose. The premier later held talks with deputy Elie Skaff and former minister Abdullah Al-Amin.

Baabda meeting agreed on 1% tax increase on businesses among other issues

During last night's meeting at the presidential palace in Baabda, President Elias Al-Hrawi, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura along with other financial figures and advisors agreed to impose a 1% turnover tax on businesses. But Cabinet will have to approve the agreement during its next scheduled meeting. Sanyoura earlier said its revenues will be used to finance development projects in rural and underprivileged areas in the country. An agreement was also reached at the Baabda meeting regarding more revenues that can be extracted from reimbursement from marine-front properties. Sanyoura also said public sector pay scales and raises would be paid in installments over a five-year period starting January 1999. This issue will also be discussed by cabinet when it meets next week.

Russian economic delegation inspects investment opportunities in Lebanon

Minister of Economy Yassin Jaber along with his Russian counterpart Yevgeny Yasen headed a meeting in Summerland Hotel in Beirut of the joint Lebanese-Russian governmental committee for economic and trade cooperation.

Jaber opened the meeting by saying a new joint-protocol will be issued to record all the agreements reached between Russia and Lebanon in all possible fields of cooperation. Jaber also called on Russian companies to invest more in Lebanon. He added an agreement will be signed by the two countries' central banks.

Russian delegation meets premier

The Russian Economic delegation today visited Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri at the government palace accompanied by the Russian ambassador to Lebanon Oleg Presipikin. The Russian ambassador later said the delegation will continue to discuss the possibility of bilateral trade touristic, and economic cooperation and to explore investment opportunities in the country. Presipikin added Russian businessmen plan to benefit from the experience of their Lebanese counterparts in the construction and management of grand hotels.

UNRWA commissioner discusses situation of Palestinian refugees with Boueiz

At Boustrous Palace, UNRWA's general commissioner Peter Hensen today held talks with Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz on the condition of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Hensen told reporters after the meeting discussions also centered on ways to improve the living conditions of these refugees in light of financial difficulties faced by UNRWA. He said the UNRWA suffers from a serious deficit that ranges between 85 and 90 million US dollars. Hensen added the number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is estimated to have reached 360,000 refugees. The UNRWA commissioner yesterday held inspected Palestinian refugee camps in Syria following a similar mission in Jordan.

Israeli forces detain more Lebanese in South Lebanon

Israeli forces today broke into the villages of Adayseh, Taybeh, Markaba and Kfar Kila and detained some Lebanese citizens. From the village of Kfar Kila, Hassan Rida Moussa, Mohammed Mahdi Fawwaz, Faris Khoder Faris, Abbas Faris and Ali Faris were detained to be forcefully enrolled in the Israeli allied militia in the South. Meanwhile, Israeli siege continues on the village of Taybeh for a second week. Four detainees from the village were released today: Jamal and Samir Toufan, and Abbas and Akram Ghaith. The Council of the South today provided the Southern occupied village with 450 shares of goods to be distributed by Red Cross Representatives on the families of the village.

Monitoring Group ends meeting

The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group today ended a meeting it began yesterday at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura. The truce discussed with representatives from Lebanon, Syria, Israel, France and the United States three complaints filed by Lebanon and three others lodged by Israel. The Lebanese side's main argument centered on Israeli shelling of the village of Mashghara in the Western Bekaa injuring three civilians including a four-year-old child. Sources close to the Lebanese delegation expected the panel to hold Israel responsible for truce violations included in their three complaints. The sources added Lebanon succeeded in convincing the group that anti-aircraft artillery does not violate the truce.

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