The meetings yesterday in Damascus between Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz, Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, and Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Sharaa were extended until late last night.
Following their last meeting, an official Syrian source said the two sides agreed on a the mechanism of planned political and diplomatic activity to clarify the backgrounds and targets of the recent Israeli maneuvers. The sources added discussions also centered on the regional situation in light of these threats. The joint Lebanese-Syrian efforts will center in the coming stage on heading for a tour which includes the US, Britain, France, China, Saudi Arabia, and a number of Arab and Gulf countries to explain both countries' stances regarding the recent Israeli offer.
Both countries will also direct a letter to the United Nations, particularly to the permanent members of the UN Security Council, in the same regard. These contacts aim at pressuring Israel to withdraw immediately and unconditionally from South Lebanon.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz will call on Tuesday for a series of meetings to be held with ambassadors of the permanent members of the UN Security Council to Lebanon. The US, British, French, Russian, and Chinese ambassadors to Lebanon will be better informed on the Lebanese stance which rejects the Israeli offer on 425. The ministry will also prepare some letters to explain Lebanon's position to the UN Security Council chief Kofi Annan and the five permenant members of the Council. Boueiz will also respond to the letters of his American counterpart Madeleine Albright and his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine which discussed the visits of Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai to Washington and Paris in a bid to market his suggestion. The sources also said Syria will always support Lebanon in countering Israeli maneuvers.
For its part, the Israeli foreign ministry is in the process of preparing a response plan to the common Syrian-Lebanese campaign aimed at countering its proposal for any conditional pullout from South Lebanon.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today visited former premier Salim Al-Hoss at his residence in Beirut. Discussions centered on the latest developments in the country and the region. Hariri also briefed Hoss on his talks yesterday with the Syrian leadership in Damascus concerning Israel's latest offer to conditionally implement Resolution 425. Hoss later said the stance of the Lebanese government regarding the Israeli offer represents a consensus between all the Lebanese on the necessity of the unconditional and immediate implementation of Resolution 425.
At the presidential palace in Baabda, President Elias Al-Hrawi today received the head of the Phalanges party in Lebanon, George Saadeh. He later met a delegation of the National Syrian party headed by Mahmud Abdel Khaleq.
Meanwhile, the Christian Orthodox sect in Lebanon today celebrated Good Friday. Masses and celebrations were held everywhere across the country.
Beirut's Orthodox Archbishop Elias Awdeh headed a special mass in the capital on this occasion.
Israel today shelled the villages of Sojod and Rayhan in Iqlim Al-Touffah, the outskirts of Eastern and Western Zawtar, and the Litani area. For its part, the resistance attacked an Israeli patrol in the area located between the villages of Barasheet and Houmeen. The Islamic resistance, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for shelling Qalaat Al-Shkeef where three Israeli soldiers were reportedly injured.
Meanwhile, the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group will meet next Thursday at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura to look into a complaint filed by Lebanon on Israeli shelling on Nabatieh Al-Faouqa causing damage in two civilian homes. The panel will also look into a number of Israeli complaints regarding alleged truce violations.
Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani today called on Lebanon to face the coming period with intense caution. Qabbani was referring to the recent Israeli maneuvers aimed at Resolution 425 and the Israeli proposal of a conditional pullout from South Lebanon in exchange for security guarantees provided by the Lebanese government to ensure the safety of Israel's Northern border. Qabbani also stressed the necessity of enforcing national unity and coordinating efforts with Syria to counter Israeli threats. He also called on the international community to press for the unconditional implementation of 425.
Former Jordanian deputy Toujan Al-Faysal today arrived in Beirut for a visit which comes on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Qana massacre. At Beirut' International Airport, Al-Faysal described the Qana carnage as the price which helped all Arab countries to wake up. She also stressed the important role of the Lebanese resistance in South Lebanon.
The third conference of Parliamentarians of Lebanese origin opens this evening at the Coral Beach in Beirut. More than 50 deputies will participate in the meeting coming from 15 countries around the world. The conference will be opened by House Speaker Nabih Berri. Workshops will be held tomorrow at the Lebanese parliament. Recommendations and decisions are expected to be issued at the end of the meeting. Discussions will center on ways to support Lebanon's call for the implementation of Resolution 425.
The meeting will also tackle ways to boost economic, cultural, information, trade and media cooperation with the countries that include parliamentarians of Lebanese origin.
A jeweler was today found dead in his shop in Hamra Street which is one of the most famous streets of the capital. Witnesses said they heard a gunshot and when they hurried to the shop, they found the jeweler dead. Sources predict the incident was an act of suicide. Following the incident, the Jewelers' syndicate called for a strike to be held tomorrow by all the jewelers of the country to protest repeated incidents of this sort.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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