During his second day in Cairo, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri held talks with his counterpart Kamal Al-Janzouri. Discussions centered on bilateral relations between Lebanon and Egypt and ways to boost economic ties between the two countries. The premier later convened with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's advisor Oussama Al-Baz. Hariri also held talks with Foreign Minister Amro Moussa on the Middle East peace process and the recent Israeli offer on the conditional implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Foreign Minister announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive in Cairo next week for a short visit. Netanyahu is expected to hold talks with President Hosni Mubarak on the Middle East Peace Process. Netanyahu's advisor David Bar Illan yesterday said that the meeting comes at Mubarak's invitation adding it is intended to exchange views on the peace process before Netanyahu heads to London where he will convene with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in a US-sponsored meeting scheduled for May 4 and attended by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
During a TV interview in Cairo this morning, the Lebanese premier reiterated Lebanon's rejection of Israel's proposal to conditionally withdraw from South Lebanon. He added now that Israel acknowledged the existence of Resolution 425 twenty years after it was issued by the UN Security Council, it should implement it immediately and without conditions. Hariri also called on the international community to pressure Israel to implement 425 or at least go back to the negotiating table with Lebanon and Syria from the point where the talks left off. The Lebanese premier also stressed security does not bring peace adding that the whole region needs comprehensive peace which will lead to a more stable and secure Middle East. Hariri also praised the special historic relations between the peoples of Egypt and Lebanon but called for more cooperation on the economic level.
At Boustrous Palace this morning, Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz held talks with the ambassadors of the US, Britain, France, China, and Russia, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. After the meeting, the five ambassadors did not wish to speak to reporters. Boueiz instead held a press conference saying he explained to the ambassadors Lebanon's official stance regarding Resolution 425 and the necessity of its immediate and unconditional implementation. The foreign minister also stressed resolution 425 is clear and needs no further explanations or negotiations. He added that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had stated in Lebanon that the circumstances have changed since the Resolution was born. But Boueiz added Annan was not clear about any possibility of subjecting the Resolution to some amendments. For his part, the French ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Jouanneau told some reporters at Boustrous Palace that the French stance concerning 425 has not changed adding that Israel's acknowledgment of the resolution is a very important move.
The president of Kuwait's Nation's Council Ahmad Abdel Aziz Al-Sadoun today arrived in Beirut. He was received at Beirut's International Airport by House Speaker Nabih Berri, the Kuwaiti ambassador to Lebanon Abdel Razzak Al-Qandari and a number of Lebanese deputies. Following an official reception ceremony, Berri told reporters at the airport discussions between the two sides will center on the establishment of an Arab Common Market and the possibility of boosting cooperation between the two countries. For his part, Al-Sadoun stressed the depth in bilateral ties between the two countries reiterating his country's solidarity with the Lebanese people and support for the Lebanese cause. The Kuwaiti official added the Lebanese cause is that of Kuwait and the whole Arab nation. Berri and Al-Sadoun later held talks at the House Speaker's residence in Ain Al-Teeneh. Talks centered on the Middle East peace process and issues of interest to both countries. Kuwait's Nation's Council head held similar talks yesterday in Damascus with Syrian President Hafez Al-Assaad. He is expected to leave Lebanon on Friday after holding talks with President Elias Al-Hrawi and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri.
The Lebanese capital today signed a cooperation and partnership agreement with the French city of Leon. The accord was signed by the head of the Municipality of Beirut Mohammed Ghaziri and the former prime minister of France, Raymond Barre, who now heads the municipality of the city of Leon.
The accord was signed in the presence of the French ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Jouanneau and a number of French Embassy officials in Beirut. Barre is also expected to sign a similar agreement of friendship and partnership with the municipality of Deir Al-Qamar in the Shouf area. The French official said the agreements would enable Beirut to benefit from French expertise on the social, cultural and architectural levels. Barre and his wife accompanied by an official French delegation arrived in Beirut yesterday. During his visit, Barre is expected to meet President Elias Al-Hrawi and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri.
At the press syndicate in Beirut, a conference was held today on the situation of Arab detainees in Israeli jails. Families of Lebanese detainees participated by reading the letters of their loved ones which highlight their harsh living conditions in these jails. The head of the follow-up committee of Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails, Mohammed Safa stressed the necessity of releasing all detainees as a priority for all Arab countries. He also called on the formation of a special ministry in the Lebanese government charged with helping those prisoners, defending their rights and quickening their release.
The Lebanese resistance today attacked the Israeli outpost in Radar to the South of the port city of Tyre. The resistance said it scored direct hits in the attack. Preliminary reports said at least one Israeli soldier was wounded. A similar attack was carried out this afternoon on the outpost of Swaydaa. The resistance operations were accompanied by Israeli shelling of the villages of Mansouri and Majdel Zoun in the Western Sector of the zone Israel occupies in the South. Meanwhile, the five-nation cease-fire monitoring group will meet tomorrow at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura. The meeting will look into six complaints filed by Israel and Lebanon over alleged truce violations.
The bank accounts of about 93 foreigners including Lebanese nationals in Freetown have been frozen. The government suspects their collaboration with the military junta that ruled the country for nine months. Treason charges were also brought against some of them who are accused in taking part in the coup against President Ahmad Kabbah last May.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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