A Lebanese-Syrian summit was held today in Damascus grouping Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad and Lebanese President Elias Al-Hrawi. The two presidents discussed recent Israeli decisions concerning UN Resolution 425 and a conditional withdrawal from South Lebanon. The closed-door meeting tackled the joint Lebanese-Syrian rejection of the recent Israeli suggestions and ways to face the current Israeli threats. Discussions also centered on current regional development and bilateral relations between the two countries.
Today's summit follows a meeting in Paris yesterday between French President Jacques Chirac and Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam and Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Sharaa. Discussions centered on the firm Syrian stance regarding the unconditional implementation of Resolution 425 which also stresses the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks. Elysee Palace officials commented that France continues to back an unconditional implementation of Resolution 425 under the framework of a global arrangement. France also voiced support for the joint Syrian-Lebanese rejection of the so-called "security before peace" equation.
Government sources today said a new political atmosphere is now dominant in the country, dictated by the overall regional situation in light of recent Israeli suggestions regarding a conditional implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425. The sources also expected another Lebanese-Syrian summit to be held after the Adha feast.
Also at government palace, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri received Administrative Reform Minister Bshara Merhej. Merhej stressed after the meeting contacts are underway between Lebanon and Syria in the face of the current Israeli diplomatic maneuvers. The premier also met deputy Antoine Haddad who later said the Israeli proposal is not serious adding Lebanon will not accept to negotiate on 425. Prime Minister Hariri later discussed issues related to the North with deputies Jihad Al-Samad and Saleh Al-Khair. He also held talks with Tourism Minister Nicola Fattoush and former minister Asaad Rizk.
A French delegation today visited Prime Minister Rafik Hariri at the government palace in the presence of the French Ambassador to Lebanon Danielle Jouanneau. The delegation later stressed France's support for Lebanon and for the unconditional implementation of Resolution 425. The delegation earlier met House Speaker Nabih Berri in parliament. Discussions centered on bilateral parliamentary tied between France and Lebanon. This is the first visit of the delegation to Beirut in 25 years. The French Parliamentary delegation, which includes seven deputies belonging to different political factions in France, is scheduled to visit the village of Qana and the city of Sidon tomorrow.
One Lebanese civilian was killed and three others wounded including a Pakistani worker inside the zone Israel occupies in South Lebanon. This was caused by a series of bomb explosions on the Adayseh-Markaba-Houla crossroads. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks. Meanwhile, the five nation-cease-fire monitoring group is in session today to look into six complaints, three filed by Lebanon and three others lodged by Israeli on alleged truce violations.
A meeting was held this morning between Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura, Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa and the head of the board of directors at the state-run Tele Liban, John Claude Boulous to discuss the station's current situation and problems. After the meeting, Sabaa said an agreement was reached on a number of solutions to the station's different problems adding these ideas will be presented to cabinet for discussion during its next session. The station's 500 employees are demanding hospitalization, medical and life insurance benefits among other demands such as getting paid on time.
Former Prime Minister Amin Al-Hafez today held a press conference at his residence in Tripoli to discuss the recent Israeli suggestion regarding the implementation of UN Resolution 425. He stressed the Israeli suggestion of a conditional withdrawal is not optional, it is an obligatory plan by the Jewish state. Al-Hafez stressed the necessity of facing the Israeli threats by a comprehensive joint Lebanese-Syrian action.
In parliament today, the head of the Committee for Immigrants and Foreign Affairs held a press conference saying he was surprised with some statements made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan describing the Israeli proposal concerning 425 as serious. Al-Khalil said the resolution needs no further explanation adding it is very clear when calling for Israel's unconditional withdrawal from South Lebanon.
Muslims celebrate the first day of Al-Adha feast tomorrow. Lebanese President Elias Al-Hrawi congratulated all the Lebanese and especially the Muslims on the occasion of the Eid calling for more unity among the Lebanese. On the same occasion, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri will receive visitors at his residence in Kraytem during the next two days. Prayers will be held in all mosques in different parts of the country.
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