A Lebanese-Syrian summit was held this noon in the Syrian coastal city of Latikia. It was headed by Syrian President Hafez Al-Assaad and Lebanese President Elias Al-Hrawi. The meeting was also attended by Lebanon's House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and Syria's Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Sharaa and a number of high-ranking Syrian officials.
The summit is held to discuss recent Israeli maneuvers on UN Security Council Resolution 425 and ways to coordinate the joint Syrian-Lebanese stances in this regard. Talks will also center on a number of internal issues that are of interest to both countries.
Israel, which is following up with concern the present Lebanese-Syrian coordination, is predicting the failure of its recent proposal on the conditional implementation of UN Resolution 425. Political officials in Tel Aviv today predicted an Arab comprehensive rejection to the Israeli offer.
The sources said the Israeli proposal will soon fade due to Arab rejection of any kind of negotiations concerning security guarantees thus calling for a comprehensive and unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon. Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai yesterday stated that the Lebanese army is capable of maintaining control over the area occupied by Israel. Mordechai added Israel is serious in its proposal. He also said a unilateral withdrawal is very dangerous and the UNIFIL is not qualified to take control of the occupied zone. Mordechai added his army will remain alert in preventing attacks which might escalate in the coming period.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir today headed Easter Monday's mass in Bkirki in the presence of the French Ambassador to Lebanon, Danielle Jouanneau, his wife, a number of embassy officials and some Lebanese political figures. Sfeir later spoke about the expected visit of French President Jacques Chirac to Lebanon describing it as another proof of France's support to Lebanon. For his part, the French ambassador stressed the necessity of implementing UN Resolution 425 which calls on the immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon.
Also at Bkirki today, Sfeir received deputy House Speaker Elie Al-Firzli, Education Minister John Obeid, deputies Mansour Ghanem Al-Bonn, Joubran Tawk, the head of the Phalanges Party in Lebanon George Saadeh, and the director of the National News Agency Rafik Shlala among other officials on the occasion of the holy Christian feast of Easter.
Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr will launch an official call on Thursday for municipal and mayoral elections to be held in the country. Murr today announced that he will hold a press conference on Thursday morning to officially call on all electoral committees to participate in the upcoming local elections which will start on May 24.
Syrian Defense Minister, General Mustafa Tlas today held talks in North Lebanon with former prime minister deputy Omar Karameh, Agriculture Minister Shawki Fakhoury, Health Minister Suleiman Franjieh and a number of Northern officials and deputies. He also met delegations from the Northern families of Al-Rasi and Franjieh. In Akkar, Tlas described recent Israeli proposals for a conditional withdrawal from South Lebanon as mere maneuvers. He also praised the efforts of the Lebanese Army Commander General Emile Lahhoud and his success in building the army's institution on a non-sectarian basis.
During his weekly press conference in Triploi, Transportation Minister Omar Miskawi hoped the Syrian-Lebanese summit that is currently being held in Latikia to be successful in coordinating views between political officials in Lebanon. Referring to President Elias Al-Hrawi's optional civil marriage proposal, Miskawi said it was not a victory for Hrawi, nor was it a defeat for Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. He continued that it was a defeat for the general political performance in the country. Miskawi also stressed the responsibility of all Lebanese leaders regarding such a sensitive issue.
Violence escalated in South Lebanon today when Israeli shells fell heavily on the village of Majdel Zoun which lies in the Western Sector of the zone Israel occupies in South Lebanon. One Lebanese civilian, 80-year-old Hussein Ali Merei, was injured and a number of civilian homes belonging to Salah Merei, Ali Hamzeh, Mohammed Hamzeh, and Khalil Mrad were damaged. The shells originated from the Israeli outpost in Dhaiyra outside the zone.
Meanwhile, the skies of South Lebanon today witnessed intensive flights by Israeli warplanes and mock air raids were also carried out over the village of Nabatieh and the Iqlim Al-Touffah area.
Lebanon was today dominated by a very hot and dry weather which is not very common in the month of April. Temperature ranged between 26 and 32 degrees Celsius. Humidity was very low too. Weather sources in Lebanon estimated the country is being affected by hot air coming from the Libyan and Egyptian deserts. The sources also predicted today's weather will recur tomorrow and the temperature may rise up to 34 degrees Celsius. As a result, many Lebanese preferred to spend their Easter Monday day-off at the seashore.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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