A Lebanese-Syrian summit will be held in Damascus this week to discuss important regional developments. This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr after talks with President Elias Al-Hrawi at the presidential palace in Baabda this morning. The summit expected to be held on Wednesday will postpone cabinet's meeting schedule for the same day. Murr also told reporters at Baabda the session was postponed because a one-percent tax on businesses needed more detailed discussions.
Murr added contacts between Lebanon and Syria concerning a presidential summit were made but the exact date of the meeting and the officials to attend are still to be decided. Al-Murr also told reporters his talks with the president centered on the presidential and local elections. The Interior Minister said everyone should be given the chance to run for presidency but added that President Elias Al-Hrawi should be placed on the top of the list of candidates.
Murr said Hrawi proved highly qualified to run the state during the last six years adding an extension of his term remains a possibility. On municipal and mayoral elections, the interior minister expressed his ministry's readiness in this regard stressing that local elections will be held on time as previously planned for May 24, May 31, and June 7.
Also at Baabda, President Elias Al-Hrawi held talks with the Syrian minister of culture Najah Al-Attar in the presence of First Lady Mona Al-Hrawi. The Syrian minister is in Lebanon to attend a conference on women's issues. Hrawi later discussed current developments with Minister of State Michel Edde. The president also received the Japanese ambassador to Lebanon Ysuji Ishigaki in a farewell visit. Ishigaki leaves the country tomorrow after almost three years in his post. The Japanese official's next posting will be in Helsinki where it is estimated that the Japanese business community is ten times bigger than Lebanon, with 30 joint ventures underway.
As part of his consultation bid aimed at finding possible ways to fund current economic, financial, and developmental projects in the country, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today held talks with Christian religious leaders. Following a comprehensive meeting he held on Friday at Bkirki with Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir and a number of Maronite Archbishops, Hariri today visited Roman Orthodox Patriarch Ognatious IV Hazeem in the presence of Archbishop Elias Awdeh and other religious figures. Comprehensive discussions were held on a number of current economic and social issues in the country. Hariri, who was accompanied by his advisor Nuhad Al-Mashnook, earlier visited Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Aram I Kishishian. The Armenian Orthodox Patriarch raised during the meeting Hariri?s efforts to ensure political and economic stability in the country. Kishishian also criticized the performance of some Lebanese ministers. He also said a proposal calling for an optional civil marriage in Lebanon should not be presented at such a critical point in time. After the meeting, deputy Khatsheek Babikian stressed the importance of Hariri's visit. He also praised the premier's efforts in reconstructing the country's infrastructure, without which Lebanon cannot regain its economic, financial, and political role in the region. The premier later held similar talks with Armenian Catholic Patriach Youhanna XVIII Kasparian in the presence of deputy Jacques Joe Khaderian and a number of archbishops. Prime Minister Hariri will continue his consultations this evening by meeting deputy House Speaker Elie Al-Ferzli and deputy Kabalan Issa Al-Khouri at the government palace.
House Speaker Nabih Berri was quoted this morning by visiting deputy Khaled Al-Daher as expressing concern for cooperation with Lebanese top authorities in ensuring resources for the implementation of the public sector pay scales draft law and funds for the return of the war displaced to their villages and towns and the implementation of development projects in underprivileged areas of the country. This after a meeting between Berri and a delegation from the Islamic Jamaa headed by deputy Daher. Discussions also centered on recent Israeli maneuvers concerning UN resolution 425 and a possible Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon. Berri reportedly stressed the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks.
The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group is scheduled to meet on Wednesday at the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura. The group will discuss six complaints, three Lebanese and three Israeli, regarding truce violations claimed by both sides. The first Lebanese compliant centers on the Israeli artillery shelling of the village of Mashghara in Western Bekaa which injured one Lebanese child. Lebanon filed two other complaints regarding Israeli attacks which damaged civilian homes in Jezzine and Haddatha. The Israeli side lodged three other complaint claiming resistance attacks caused the injury of a civilian in the village of Rayhan and the damaging of a home in Jezzine, the subject of Lebanon's second compliant.
Last night, Israeli warplanes performed intense flights on South Lebanon. Mock air raids were carried out in Nabtieh and Iqlim Al-Touffah. Israeli military helicopters also inspected the area over Tyre. Israeli shells later fell on the villages of Yater, Zibkin and Jbal Al-Boutom. No injuries or damages were reported. Meanwhile, the resistance attacked the Israeli outpost in Blat saying it scored direct hits.
The Lebanese foreign ministry was informed that Iraq released the three Lebanese detainees: Ahmad Jaber Jawad Harb, Amin Ali Nayef Rahhal, Ali Hussein Mohammed Khashaab. Lebanon's ambassador in Jordan William Habib told Boustrous Palace a series of contacts are to be carried out to ensure the release of all other Lebanese detainees in Iraqi jails. The issues of Lebanese prisoners in Iraq was raised during the visit of Iraqi foreign minister Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahhaf to Beirut last month.
Also at Boustrous Palace, the Tunisian ambassador to Lebanon Mohammed Najib Khashana announced this morning his country's foreign minister Saeed Bin Moustafa will come to Lebanon for an official visit during the first week of May. After talks at the foreign ministry, Khashana told reporters the Tunisian foreign minister is expected to sign two agreements with his Lebanese counterpart Faris Boueiz. The agreements are related to encouraging investment and avoiding double taxation between the two countries.
At the Coral Beach Hotel, Lebanese industrialists yesterday re-elected Jacques Sarraf as the head of the Lebanese Industrialists Association. The poll was held in the presence of industry minister Nadim Salem. 24 members under Sarraf?s National Unity List were consequently elected for a period of four years.
Lebanese engineers yesterday elected new branch representatives for their syndicate for the first time after the profession of engineering was organized in the country. 5500 out of 22,000 engineers participated in the elections. The results came as follows:
- From the architects: Salama Hushaimey, Jacques Khaddam, Jad Tabet, Nasr Sharafeddine and Samir Ghawi were elected.
- From the electrical engineers: Mohammed Al-Hajjar, Ahmad Abdullah, Shawkat Hamdan, Menem Maroun, and Hassan Saeed were elected.
- From the mechanical engineers: Jamal Al-Khatib, Oussama Mougharbel, Khafsa Al-Shaar, Kamal Al-Soussi, and Sharbel Farraj were elected.
- From the contractors: Joseph Maaluf, George Ghanem, Atef Yassin, Irshad Al-Naderi, and Hussein Al-Mousawi were elecet3ed.
- From the agricultural engineers: Lutfi Salloum, Abdel Latif Shamdine, Ibrahim Ismail, Nayef Al-Shamy, and George Khiryati were elected.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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