Orthodox Christians in Lebanon today celebrated Easter Monday. Masses and prayers were held everywhere across the country. Speakers stressed the important meaning of Easter and reiterated the call for more national unity among the Lebanese. As a result of the holy feast, the country today witnessed rare political activity.
President Elias Al-Hrawi today received the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon Adel Al-Khodari at the presidential palace in Baabda. Al-Khodari met the president this morning before leaving to Cairo where he will participate in the preparations underway for the planned visit of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri tomorrow. Al-Khodari told reporters at Baabda the Lebanese premier will meet President Hosni Mubarak and Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Al-Janzouri. Al-Khodari reiterated his country's support to Lebanon in the face of Israeli threats describing Lebanon's stance on 425 as completely right. The Egyptian ambassador also stressed the necessity of continuous coordination between Lebanon and Syria describing the current situation as very dangerous.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri will tomorrow visit Cairo following Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's official invitation. The two leaders are expected to discuss recent developments in the Arab world in general and the situation in South Lebanon in particular in light of intense diplomatic activity in the region marked currently by the regional tour of British Prime Minister Tony Blair whose country presides over the European Union.
During his visit to Egypt, Blair expressed EU interest in pushing the stalled Middle East peace process forward.
The diplomatic Lebanese campaign to be carried out on a regional and Arab level will start on a wide scale tomorrow. The campaign is aimed at countering Israel's call for a conditional implementation of Resolution 425 and thus the conditional pullout from South Lebanon. Following his visit to Cairo, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri will launch a tour among decision-making capitals in the world and especially those permanent members in the UN Security Council and a number of Arab countries in a bid to explain the Lebanese stance on the recent Israeli proposals. Hariri will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz.
The Lebanese foreign ministry is calling for a series of meetings to start tomorrow at Boustrous palace with the ambassador of the five permanent members of the UN Security council to Lebanon. Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz will take care of explaining the Lebanese stance on the implementation of Resolution 425. Boueiz has always reiterated that Lebanon rejects putting any kind of conditions on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425. Lebanon also stressed that Resolution 425 is very clear calling on Israel to implement it without conditions.
Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz is preparing a number of letters to be directed to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine centered on Resolution 425. Similar messages will be directed to the foreign ministers of Russia and Chin, non-aligned countries and a number of Arab states during the second half of this week.
Boueiz will also write to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Secretary General of the Arab League Ismat Abdel Majid in response to the Israeli demands. Israel earlier sent Annan a letter which discussed the situation in South Lebanon and Resolution 425. The Lebanese foreign ministry has always stressed the Israeli offer on 425 is not serious describing it as a mere maneuver aimed at distorting the nature of the resolution. Boueiz had also stated that Israel has denied the resolutions' existence for a period of 20 years adding that it now tries to deceive the whole world by its current proposals.
Transportation Minister Omar Miskawi today praised Lebanon's official and popular stance regarding the Israeli offer. He also discussed the upcoming presidential elections and the current economic and social conditions in Lebanon. During his weekly press conference held in Tripoli, Miskawi said Lebanon's position was clarified by all the leaders of the country. About the presidential election, Miskawi said any extension of the president's term would express inner instability. Miskawi added the country's political figures should not interfere in the expected municipal and mayoral elections. He also discussed issues that should be tackled during cabinet's session next Friday.
Defense Minister Mohsen Dalloul said Lebanon is facing very tough challenges, the most dangerous of which is the diplomatic war with Israel on Resolution 425. Dalloul was speaking to a press conference he held today at his residence in the Bekaa. He called for more national and internal unity among the Lebanese. He also gave a number of suggestions that aim at improving and developing production sectors in the country and mainly enforcing a development plan in the Bekaa and the Baalback-Hermel areas. He said he had handed these suggestions earlier to Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri.
Following a two-week-visit to the United States, a Lebanese economic delegation headed by Minister of Trade and Industry Yassin Jaber arrived in Beirut last night. The visit was aimed at enforcing Lebanon's regional position economically. The Lebanese delegation held discussions with a number of American officials and Investment Institutions. Jaber described these talks as good. The first deputy of Lebanon's Central Bank Governor, Nasser Al-Saiidi who is also a member of the Lebanese delegation briefed the media on the delegation's contacts with a number of financial and trade institutions in the US saying these institutions expressed readiness to help Lebanon and participate in its economic revival. Al-Saiidi also witnessed a strong will among these corporations to boost economic ties and encourage trade exchange with Lebanon.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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