After 48 hours of the Latikia summit, the Syrian and Egyptian leadership met this afternoon in Cairo. Syrian president Hafez Al-Assaad and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak convened to discuss recent Israeli proposals of a conditional implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425. Sources close to the Egyptian presidency revealed that the latest developments in the Middle East peace process will also top the agenda of talks during the summit.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz will head to Damascus on for talks with Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam and Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Sharaa. Discussions will continue on ways to coordinate efforts and discuss a Syrian-Lebanese plan of action to counter recent Israeli maneuvers aiming at a conditional pullout from South Lebanon. The Israeli offer is expected to be the subject of discussions tomorrow in Israel between US Defense Minister William Cohen and the Israeli cabinet. Meanwhile, Lebanese government sources today revealed Prime Minister Hariri will head to Cairo on Tuesday for a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The sources added Hariri's visit to Cairo does not come as part of a tour he intends to launch soon in the region to explain Lebanon's stance on the necessity of the immediate and unconditional implementation of Resolution 425.
Prime Minister Rafik Al- Hariri headed this afternoon a meeting of the National Decision Bloc in parliament. The premier later met the new Japanese ambassador to Lebanon. He also held talks with Environment Minister Akram Shhayyeb. Shhayyeb later said work began today handling the situation at the Karanteena dump adding a French delegation today arrived in Beirut to help the ministry in this regard. Hariri also met Lebanon's ambassador in London Mahmud Hammoud. Talks centered on British stances regarding the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425. Hammoud stressed the British support for Lebanon's rejection of putting conditions on the resolution's implementation.
Cabinet is scheduled to meet this evening at the presidential palace in Baabda. The session will be headed by President Elias Al-Hrawi and attended by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and the ministers. Cabinet will discuss the public sector pay scales draft law and the current situation of state-run Tele Liban. Also on the agenda of discussions is the outcome of the Latikia summit and the main issues tackled at the Syrian-Lebanese meeting.
Today, President Elias Al-Hrawi held talks in Baabda with former House Speaker Hussein Al-Husseini and a delegation from his family. Hrawi later received a delegation from the organization Save the Children.
On parliamentary Wednesday, House Speaker Nabih Berri was still reticent over the Syrian-Lebanese discussions held during the Latikia summit. Some visiting deputies said Berri discussed with them instead the situation in South Lebanon, the necessity of enforcing the role of the resistance in the South and the public sector pay scales draft law. Berri was quoted as saying the public scales project must be ratified during today's cabinet session and the sources of funding can be ensured later. The house speaker also stressed municipal and mayoral elections with be held on time reportedly denying the possibility of any constitutional amendments. Also at Nijmeh Square, Berri met a delegation from the Bankers Association. He later held talks with the Kuwaiti ambassador to Lebanon Abdel Razzak Al-Kandari on bilateral ties between the two countries.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir today headed to Rome accompanied by Roman Catholic Patriarch Maximus V Hakim. The two Christian leaders will take part in a special Synod for Asia in the Vatican. Before leaving, Sfeir responded to questions by reporters at Beirut's International Airport by describing his relationship with President Elias Al-Hrawi and other officials in the Lebanese government as good and normal.
He denied any tension exited in his relationship with Hrawi. Meanwhile, Sfeir voiced his deep appreciation for Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. At the Maronite Patriarch's farewell was Transportation Minister Omar Miskawi representing Prime Minister Hariri. No representative of the presidential palace was present contrary to norm. Sfeir and Hrawi had been at odds since Hrawi launched his optional civil marriage proposal, a suggestion rejected by Lebanon's Christian and Muslim religious leaders.
Israel today shelled Lebanese villages in the area of Tyre, Nabatieh Al-Faouqa, Zahrani, and Jabal Al-Rafii. In Nabatieh, the shelling damaged the home of the Lebanese civilian Ibrahim Ghandour. The resistance retaliated by launching an attack at an Israeli grouping in Bayyadah.
Resistance guerrillas also shelled the Israeli outposts in Sojod, Rayhan, and Zaffateh where it wounded two Israeli soldiers. Israeli sources also reported the injuries. The resistance also announced it attacked the Israeli outpost in Radar.
Meanwhile, Security sources in the South today reported Israeli forces released Zaynab Halawi. She was detained on the Kfar Tibnit crossing one week ago and held as prisoner in the Khiam Detention Center.
The head of the follow-up committee for Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails Mohammed Safa today held a press conference in the Lebanese Press syndicate. Safa revealed a statement presented by the committee to the 54th meeting of the Human Rights Committee which was recently held in Geneva. The statement explained in details the situation of Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails.
In another development, the Israeli defense attorney of Suha Bshara today called on Paris not to receive the leader of the Israeli allied militia in South Lebanon Antoine Lahd on its land as long as his attempted assassin Suha Bshara is still detained by Israel. The Israeli lawyer also called on French President Jacques Chirac to pressure Israel to release Bshara who is being held in the Khiam Detention Center.
Administrative Reform Minister Bshara Merhej today represented Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri on the day of solidarity with Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails. The meeting was organized by the national committee for Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails. Merhej said the Israeli offer of a conditional withdrawal from South Lebanon is self-contradicting. For his part, deputy Ghassan Matar said Lebanon's only weapon is the resistance in the South. He added Lebanon rejects any negotiations on security guarantees with Israel.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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