At the end of the Syrian-Lebanese summit which was held for eight hours in Latikia, both the Syrian and Lebanese leadership reiterated their rejection of Israeli conditions on implementing UN Resolution 425 describing the recent Israeli offer as dangerous to Lebanon, the Middle East peace process and Resolution 425 itself. The statement issued by the two sides after their meeting stressed their willingness to start peace negotiations at the point where they left off. The three Lebanese leaders also thanked Syrian President Hafez Al-Assaad for his continuous support for Lebanon.
Sources close to the meeting said that the Syrian President had insisted that domestic political disputes must be put aside while Israeli attempts to force Lebanon into negotiations over the future of the South.
Syrian newspapers today stressed the importance of the Lebanese-Syrian summit. The official daily Al-Baath reported that Syria will always support Lebanon in the face of Israeli threats.
On the eve of cabinet's session and following yesterday's Syrian-Lebanese summit in Latikia, President Elias Al-Harrow and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today held a one-hour meeting at the presidential palace in Baabda. Talks centered on the outcome of yesterday's Latikia summit and tomorrow's cabinet session scheduled to be held in Baabda. After the meeting, Hariri only told reporters "everything is all right, everything is excellent". This the first visit of Hariri to Baabda in 25 days. The rift between the two leaders was scored after Hariri's opposition to the president's civil marriage proposal and his refusal to sign the bill before the cabinet.
Also at Baabda today, President Elias Al-Hrawi reiterated his call for the ratification of an optional civil marriage law in the country. He was quoted by visiting vice president of the Phalanges Party, Mounir Al-Hajj, as saying if such a law was not implemented during his term, he will entrust the coming president of the republic to work on it. Hrawi earlier received a delegation of the National Committee of Lebanese parties that supported President Elias Al-Hrawi's proposal of an optional civil marriage law. The delegation hoped the president will remain steadfast on his stance.
After meeting Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri at government palace this morning, Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr told reporters cabinet's session will be held tomorrow under comfortable circumstances. The premier later held talks with Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa who described yesterday's meeting in Latikia as the summit of all summits which reiterated the joint Syrian-Lebanese stance in the face of Israeli maneuvers. Also visiting government palace today were deputies Misbah Al-Ahdap, Wajih Al-Baarini and Qabalan Issa Al-Khouri and ministers Talal Arslan and Michel Eddeh. Hariri also met Lebanon's ambassador to Cuba Zaydan Al-Sagheer and discussed with him bilateral issues and ways to boost economic and political ties between the two countries.
House Speaker Nabih Berri today met Public Works Minister Ali Harajli at his office in parliament. He also met Lebanon's ambassador to London Mahmud Hammud and Lebanon's ambassador to Washington Mohammed Shatah. Most visitors reported Berri's rejection to discuss the outcome of yesterday's Lebanese-Syrian meeting in Latikia.
The Lebanese cabinet will be in session tomorrow at the presidential palace in Baabda. The meeting will be headed by President Elias Al-Hrawi and attended by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and cabinet's ministers. Top on the agenda of the expected discussions will be the public sector pay scales draft law and ways to fund the project. Cabinet will also discuss the situation at the state-run Tele Liban and ways to overcome if current financial and technical problems.
Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz is expected back in Beirut this evening coming from France where he held talks this morning with French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine. Discussions centered on the stalled Middle East Peace Process and recent Israeli proposals of a conditional withdrawal from South Lebanon. After meeting Vedrine, Boueiz stressed Lebanon's insistence on a conditional Israeli withdrawal and its rejection of any conditions or negotiations on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir today received at Bkirki another batch of well-wishers on the occasion of Easter. Sfeir held talks with Prince Farouq Abi Al-Lamah and met delegations from the Tripoli, Zahle, Deir Al-Ahmar, and Bsharri on the same occasion. Sfeir told his visitors that Lebanon is built on the qualities of understanding and mutual respect among its citizens. He added Lebanon will always be the country of cooperation, love, and peace.
The Union of Arab News Agencies today held a meeting in Beirut to discuss ways to boost information cooperation between their archive departments. The meeting also tackled ways to exchange archival documents by linking archive departments in these agencies. The head of the union Rafik Shlala who also directs the National News Agency in Lebanon said the meeting helped in evaluating archival work in these agencies and discussed ways to enhance easier exchange of information between the Arab news agencies. The meeting will be concluded tomorrow. Participants are heads of archive departments of news agencies in Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon.
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