News from Beirut April 24  1998 ...Search

Cabinet meets this evening at Baabda

The public sector pay scales draft law will top the agenda of talks tonight when cabinet meets at the presidential palace in Baadba. Cabinet decided to hold this special session during its last meeting held on April, 15. The session will tackle possible ways of funding the project. Ministers will also discuss the series of diplomatic and political contacts underway in the country and the region regarding the situation in the Middle East in light of the recent Israeli maneuvers. The meeting will then tackle the outcome of Prime Minister Hariri's talks in Egypt and also the recent diplomatic contacts carried out by the Foreign Ministry in the same regard.

It might be worth noting that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak today held a surprise meeting with Syrian President Hafez Al-Assaad at the Syrian coastal city of Latikia. Mubarak is due to receive Israeli Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu in Cairo next Tuesday

Government sources say the country's top leaders agree on the necessity of finding a quick solution to public scales

Government sources today traced an agreement between President Elias Al-Hrawi, House Speaker Nabih Berri, and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri on the necessity of finding a solution to the public sector pay scales draft law as soon as possible. The sources added three suggestions are being presented in the country to ensure funds the project: increasing cellular phone taxes, implementing a 1% turnover tax and increasing the price of petrol. But the sources said nothing is final yet and everything is subject to discussions.

On the Lebanese campaign to face current Israeli diplomatic threats, the sources said the government is now for replies to the messages it directed to different concerned countries in the world. In light of these responses, the government will decide on the framework of Lebanon's next move. The sources denied that Hariri intends to visit Paris shortly to hold talks with French officials.

Sudanese official informs Hariri his country supports the implementation of 425

At the government palace, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri met the Sudanese Minister of Trade Othman Al-Hadi Ibrahim in the presence of the ambassador of Sudan to Lebanon. The Sudanese minister reported his country's support to the implementation of UN Resolution 425 without conditions. He said he handed the premier an invitation to visit Al-Khartoum forwarded by the first deputy of the Sudanese President. Hariri accepted the invitation and promised to go there when the right time comes. Hariri also met a delegation from the Iqlim Al-Kharroub are that explained the different needs of its villages. He also met the head of the journalists' syndicate in Egypt Makram Mohammed Ahmad.

Boueiz holds more diplomatic contacts at the foreign ministry

The Lebanese diplomatic campaign to explain the country's stance regarding recent Israeli proposals on the implementation of Resolution 425 continued today at the foreign ministry. Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz held talks with ambassadors of the Asian continent. Diplomatic sources at the ministry said Lebanon did not receive official information on the possibility of UN chief Kofi Annan's formation of a team charged with holding discussions on the implementation of Resolution 425. The foreign ministry said Lebanon is not obliged to take any previous decisions before knowing whether Annan intends to present suggestions that are contrary to the Lebanese stance in this regard. Lebanon rejects any amendment of Resolutions 425 or 426. In another development, Boueiz held talks with Italian deputy foreign minister who called on the implementation of Resolution 425 adding the Lebanese and Italian stance in this regard are coincident.

Lebanon signs cooperation agreement with Italy

At the Lebanese Council of Development and Reconstruction (CDR), a cooperation agreement was signed today between the Lebanese and Italian governments. The accord includes a loan agreement whereby funds are provided for environmental and agricultural projects to be carried out in Lebanon. The accord also includes an Italian donation of 2.5 million US dollars to fund health-related projects in the country. This comes as part of efforts exerted by both governments to boost bilateral economic and financial ties. The agreement was signed by the head of the CDR, Nabil Al-Jiser and the Italian deputy foreign minister. The meeting was attended by the Italian ambassador to Lebanon Carlo Calia.

Murr calls on syndicates to participate in supervising local election procedures

Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr today visited the press, editors' and lawyers' syndicates in Beirut calling on them to participate in the committee which will supervise election procedures during the upcoming municipal and mayoral elections. Murr stressed local elections will be held on time. The Interior Minister added local elections aim at preserving freedom, democracy and integrity in the country apart from political interference. He also hoped elections will be held peacefully stressing high security measures will be ensured in all Lebanese areas starting from the Baalbeck-Hermel region.

Monitoring group stresses on avoiding attacks to or from civilian areas

The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group today called at the end of its meeting on all parties to respect the terms of the accord mainly by avoiding civilians and civilian areas while fighting in South Lebanon. The panel concluded early this morning a 14-hour meeting held at the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura. A statement was released announcing the meeting discussed six complaints, three filed by Lebanon and three others by Israel. The panel called on both the Lebanese and Israeli sides to avoid civilian areas when detonating road-side bombs or when fighting in the South. The truce bans attacks to and from civilian areas.

Four official holidays start next week

The Prime Minister's office today issued a memorandum which calls on the closure of all administrations, public institutions, and municipalities on the following days:

- April, 27 on the occasion of the Muslim New Year

- May,1 on the occasion of Labor Day

- May, 6 on the memory of Ashoura

- May, 7 on the occasion of Martyrs Day

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