Cabinet's meeting scheduled for tonight was postponed till Monday due to the death last night of Ali Seniora, older brother of the minister of state for finance, Fouad Seniora. Prime minister Rafik Hariri and minsters will be in Sidon today to offer condolences.
Tonights' session was supposed to be devoted largely to identifying more sources of revenue to finance the public sector's new salary scales amid signs the two per cent addition to customs duties will be revised to exclude raw materials destined for local industries.
On tonight's agenda also were proposals to tax cellular phone firms and regulate sea-front properties to generate more income for the government.
The European Union envoy to the middle east Miguel Angel Moratinos brought Lebanese authorities a message on what he said were Israel's real intentions in the proposed conditional pull-out from Lebanon. Moratinos stressed that Israeli withdrawal should not be treated as a partial issue but as part of a comprehensive peace plan.
Beirut re-affirmed to the envoy its official stance: Israel should withdraw from south Lebanon without any conditions, in compliance with UN Resolution 425. Moratinos this morning held separate talks with house-speaker Nabih Berri, prime minister Rafik Hariri, president Elias Hrawi, and foreign minister Fares Boueiz.
Maratinos said that it is important that Israel state its readiness to implement Resolution 425, but it should be implemented unconditionally and without any amendments.
The Fijian president Kamisese Mara this morning inaugurated a new base for his country's battalion serving under the UN peace-keeping force in south Lebanon. Mara traveled to Qana this morning to open the new base which will replace the post where 107 Lebanese civilians were killed by Israeli shelling in April 1996.
The ceremony was attended by the commander of the UN force, high-ranking UNIFIL officials and Lebanese officials.
Mara hoped peace will prevail soon in south Lebanon.
In a morning meeting with prime-minister Rafik Hariri, the secretary general of the Francophone group, former UN chief, Butros Butros-Ghali reiterated UN Resolutions 425 and 426 do not need to be amended. He said the Resolutions are clear and Israel should withdraw from Lebanon without any conditions. Ghali explained the UN peace-keeping force which had been deployed in south Lebanon since 1978 has the authority to negotiate the mechanism of an Israeli pullout from Lebanese territories.
Ghali is in Lebanon to attend the Francophone 12th general assembly.
The head of the General Labour Confederation GLC Ghanim Soghbi today announced no celebrations will be held to mark Labor Day on May 1.
He said since elected last April, his aim has been to unify labor syndicates and achieve workers' demands. He stressed the majority of Lebanon's syndicates now belong to the GLC but criticized employers for failing to show commitment to their promises. Sit-ins and strikes, he added, will be held to protest work conditions.
Meanwhile labor minister Assaad Hardan called on all syndicates to unify and strengthen their position for an effective dialogue with employers and the government.
Lebanon will be present this year-and for the first time in years - at the World Exposition in Lisbon, Portugal, which will run from May 22 until September 30. This is a chance for the country to interact with the rest of the world.
However, it is thought that Lebanon's presence at the Expo will be weak because the government approval for the project came at the last minute, the budget for it was minimal and the means to implement it limited.
Nizar Kabbani, one of the most celebrated Arab poets of our time, died in London this morning. Kabbani spent a major part of his life in Beirut. He published most of his poetry in the capital and devoted many of his passionate poems to "The Lady of the World" or "Sit-el-Dunia" as he liked to call the city. Many singers, among whom the Lebanese Majeda el - Roumi, turned many of his poems into moving and beautiful popular songs.
Syrian president Hafez al-Assad sent a special plane to London to bring his body home to Damascus for burial.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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