News from Beirut March 13  1998 ...Search

Israel steps up attacks on the South and detains more civilians

Shortly after the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group called for avoiding attacks to or from civilian areas in the South, Israeli artillery early this morning shelled the village of Haddatha. The shelling caused damage in the houses of three Lebanese civilians: Mohammed Sojod, Hasan Souli, and Ibrahim Sabra. The village's mosque was also destroyed in addition to a civilian car owned by Dawood Fadel. A Finnish group from UNIFIL immediately arrived to inspect the damage caused in the area. The Lebanese resistance retaliated by shelling the Israeli outpost in Blat saying it scored direct hits in the attack. At noon, the resistance attacked twice the position of Radar and the Israeli post in Qalaat Al-Shkeef. Meanwhile, more Israeli shells fell on the outskirts of Majdel Zoun and Mansouri and on the villages of Mazraat Al-Hamra and Arnoun. This afternoon, Israel shelled the outskirts of Sojod, Al-Rayhan, and Jabal Al-Rafii in Iqlim Al-Touffah. Israeli war planes also flew over Nabatieh and the Iqlim Al-Touffah mountain ridges.

In the occupied zone, Israeli detentions of Lebanese Chileans continued. Security sources in the zone said the following civilians were detained to be forcefully enrolled in the Israeli allied militia in South Lebanon:

Haydar Haydar and Hasan Hayder from Taybeh, Haythem Younis and Mohammed Zarakit from Markaba, Khoder Souaani from Adayseh and Youssef Dagher from Mays Al-Jabal. In the village of Shibaa, Israeli intelligence forces detained the civilian Abdel Nasser Ghader and led him to the Khiam detention center.

A Syrian-Lebanese summit to be held tomorrow

A Syrian-Lebanese summit will be held tomorrow in Damascus headed by presidents Hafez Al-Assad and Elias Al-Hrawi. The broad meeting is expected to tackle recent Israeli proposals for a conditional withdrawal from Lebanon. Discussions are also expected to center on the expected visit of  UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Beirut scheduled for the 19th of this month. Also on the agenda is the subject of the forthcoming presidential elections.

Hariri says democracy is Lebanon is in good shape

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today held talks with Labor Minister Asaad Hardan on the situation of his ministry in light of the current economic conditions in the country. The premier later received deputy Michel Faroun who informed Hariri on the situation in Asharafieh and residents demands to relocate Sunday's market place in the area. The prime minister was also visited by the head of the chamber of commerce and industry Adnan Al-Qassar accompanied by the director of the Institution of International Funding, Andrie Khofagamian. Discussions centered on the possibility of providing more funds by the institution to finance new programs in Lebanon's educational and touristic sectors. Khofagamian said after the meeting his Institution has so far provided Lebanon with more than 440 million US dollars to fund a number of projects in different sectors in the country.

Hariri also received Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa who later told reporters at the palace the subject of satellite political broadcasting will be tackled by cabinet during it's next scehdueled meeting. The premier will meet today Roman Catholic Patriarch Maksimos V Hakim.

Last night, the premier participated in a ceremony held at Commodore Hotel in Beirut by the Lebanese Olympic Committee. Hariri told the audience democracy in Lebanon is still in good shape. The prime minister stressed the importance of dialogue and solidarity in preserving the country's national unity.

Shamseddine says national unity is highly required at present

The head of the higher Shiite Council Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine today national unity is highly required now more than any other time. Shamseddine added Israeli recent proposals concerning UN resolution 425 have two aims: the reinforcement of the Israeli occupation using an international legislation and the destruction of the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks. The head of the higher Shiite Council stressed that the Lebanese and Syrian goals are complementary calling on Israel to unconditionally withdrawal from Lebanon. Shamseddine was speaking at the opening of a new mosque in Ghbairy at the presence of House Speaker Nabih Berri and Social Affairs Minister Ayyoub Hmayyed representing Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The opening was also attended by Kuwait's ambassador to Lebanon Abdel Razzak Al-Qandari whose country participated in funding the construction of the new mosque.

Belgium ambassador agrees on unity of Lebanese-Syrian tracks

Belgium's ambassador to Lebanon today voiced agreement with Lebanon stance regarding UN Resolution 425 calling for implementing more pressure on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. He was speaking after talks with Acting Finance Minister of State Fouad Sanyoura. Ambassador Michel Shtortif added the Lebanese-Syrian tracks cannot be disunited. He also said he had no knowledge of any official stance issues by his country in light of recent Israeli proposals of a conditional withdrawal from Lebanon. He voiced support for any effort that aims at achieving comprehensive peace in the Middle East. For his part, Sanyoura updated the Belgian ambassador on recent developments achieved in Lebanon on the economic and financial levels. The Belgian diplomat also spoke of possible agreements to be signed between Beirut and Brussels over the protection and encouragement of bilateral investments and the elimination of double taxation between the two countries.

Lebanon and Russia sign tourism and financial agreements

Lebanon and Russia today signed two cooperation agreements in the fields of tourism and banking. This after the Lebanese-Russian joint governmental committee ended a two-day meeting today at the Summerland Hotel in Beirut.

The first agreement was signed by Lebanon's Tourism Minister Nicola Fattoush and the Russian deputy chief of the joint committee. It includes facilitating entry between Lebanon and Russia and issues related to artistic and cultural cooperation. The second agreement was signed by Lebanon's Minister of Trade and Economy Yassin Jaber and his Russian counterpart Yevgeny Yasin. It involves bilateral exchange of information and expertise between and Russian bankers in a bid to boost economic ties between the two countries. The financial agreement is considered valid starting from the day of its signing. But the former one needs ratification from the Lebanese cabinet and parliament. The next meeting of the committee will be later scheduled to be held in Russia.

Diplomatic contacts prevail at the foreign ministry

At Boustrous palace today, the Moroccan embassy's charge d'affairs Al-Arabi Bin Sheikh announced a Moroccan economic delegation will visit Lebanon at the end of April in a bid to boost ties and enhance cooperation between the two countries. Also at the foreign ministry, secretary general Zafer Al-Hassan met UNESCO's regional director Qassem Bin Saleh in a farewell visit. Bin Saleh introduced Al-Hassan to the new director general of UNESCO ,Victor Billy. The British embassy?s charge d?affairs also held talks at the ministry that centered on current preparations for the expected visit of Britain's foreign minister Robin Cook

Information Ministry meeting discusses media preparations for March 14

Information Ministry's Director General John Obeid today held a meeting with representatives of local, Arab, and foreign audio-visual media stations in the country. Discussions centered on media preparations for March 14. Lebanon tomorrow commemorates 20 years of Israeli occupation. Obeid stressed the media should convey the will-to-stay among Lebanese citizens in Israeli occupied areas in the South and the Western Bekaa. He added programs broadcast on this occasion should also highlight the role of the Lebanese resistance in its struggle against the Israeli occupation and in reinforcing the strong will-to-resist among Lebanese citizens. The programs might also reveal a Lebanese-Arab consensus on the cause of the Southerners and the necessity of implementing UN resolution 425 with no conditions.

A conference on childhood held in Beirut

A conference on childhood organized by the National Committee for the Lebanese Child and the Higher Council for Childhood was opened today at the German Gothe institution in Beirut by Minister of Social Affairs Ayyoub Hmayyed. The meeting discussed ways to protect the children of Lebanon and the world against starvation, poverty, homelessness, and violence.

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