Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz today held a series of meetings with Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam and Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Sharaa in Damascus. The meeting reiterated both countries' opposition to Israel's offer to implement UN Security Council Resolution 425 with conditions. Officials also discussed a Syrian-Lebanese plan of action enabling both sides to be ready to face any kind of Israeli threats. The Lebanese foreign minister affirmed the two countries will continue to coordinate efforts and step up contacts to counter Israeli maneuvers.
Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair was today quoted as saying Britain will be pleased to see an Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon under UN Resolution 425. Blair who will fly to the Middle East tomorrow, expressed the need to kick start the peace process in the region.
In another development, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today described Israel's proposal for a conditional pullout from South Lebanon as positive.
He added the offer should be examined by all sides. In an interview with Lebanon's An-Nahar daily, the UN chief said Resolution 425 is clear.
Lebanon has rejected any conditions to be applied on the implementation of the UN Resolution.
President Elias Al-Hrawi today received around 100 Southern Lebanese children coming from the villages of Qana, Siddikeen and Jbal Al-Boutom.
These villages represent the home towns of those civilians killed during Israeli shelling of a UNIFIL shelter in the village of Qana during the 1996 Israeli onslaught dubbed Grapes of Wrath Operation on Lebanon. Hrawi said Lebanon needs political aids to liberate the South from Israeli occupation.
The president also reiterated that resistance activities will continue until Israel withdraws. On Saturday, Lebanon will commemorate the second anniversary for the Qana massacre.
House Speaker Nabih Berri today said Israel is trying to empty Resolution 425 of its essence. He was speaking during a ceremony held by the General Labor Confederation in Tyre to commemorate the memory of the Qana massacre.
Berri added Lebanon will not sign a peace treaty with Israel before Syria and the whole Arab Nation do. He stressed Lebanon's ongoing coordination with Syria calling on Israel to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from South Lebanon. Berri listed Israeli massacres of Arabs starting from the Deir Yassin massacre to the late Qana massacre. The ceremony was attended by representatives of Arab labor organizations and a number of Lebanese deputies, ministers, GLC members and Southern officials.
A pro-Israeli militiaman was killed this morning by a roadside bomb in South Lebanon. The bomb exploded in the enclave of Jizzine which is controlled by the Israeli allied militia. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
Lebanon has filed a complaint for the April 1996 cease-fire monitoring group over Israeli shelling which damaged a house in Nabtieh Al-Faouqa.
Yesterday, the Israeli side also lodged two complaints to the panel over the shelling of the village of Rayhan in which a Lebanese girl was injured.
Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr today announced the official dates for holding municipal and mayoral elections in the country. Murr called on all eligible voters to take part in the elections. He added local elections will neither be held in villages occupied by Israel nor in areas where the war-displaced have not been repatriated. The dates were announced by the interior minister as follows:
- May 24: Mount Lebanon
- May 31: North Lebanon
- June 7: Beirut and South Lebanon
- June 14: The Bekaa
This is the first time municipal and mayoral elections will be held in the country in 35 years.
Environment Minister Akram Shhayyeb today presented a plan to solve the problem of waste dumped at the Northern entrance of Beirut. Very bad odors are originating from the Bourj Hammud Dump and the Karantina plant.
Shhayyeb said the plan will be supervised by the ministry but carried out by the Council for Development and Reconstruction. A bio-filter will be installed in the plant to treat the problem. A team of French experts is in Beirut to help the ministry in installing sprinklers at the Karantina composting plant. Shhayyeb yesterday announced after a meeting with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri that work had begun on treating the stench.
Following cabinet's session which was held last night at the presidential palace in Baabda, Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa announced cabinet has postponed discussion on the public sector pay scales and civil servants' ranks saying more time is needed to study ways to fund the project. Cabinet will meet during a special session to be held on April 24 at the presidential palace to settle the legislation. Meanwhile, Sabaa announced cabinet allocated a sum of $1.135m for employees' overdue social and other benefits and another $400,000 allotted to the station every month to meet other expenses. The situation of the country's prisons and a number of development projects in the Baalbeck-Hermel region also topped the agenda of cabinet's session last night.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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