Moslems in Lebanon, the Arab World, and all Muslim countries in the world today celebrated the first day of the Al-Adha feast. In Lebanon, the feast was an occasion to exchange felicitations, it was also a chance for more contacts between political figures in the country and around the world. In their sermons, Islamic religious leaders stressed the need for more national unity among all the Lebanese to face recent Israeli maneuvers.
Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani warned against the Israeli threats stressing the need for solidarity and rejecting the Israeli conditions on implementing UN Resolution 425. The head of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine reiterated the call for withdrawing the civil marriage bill which threatens unity among the Lebanese. For his part, Druze Qaemmakam Sheikh Bahjat Ghaith called for more dialogue among the Lebanese.
US President Bill Clinton today said he is looking forward to cooperating with Lebanon towards achieving just and comprehensive peace in the region. His words came as part of a message he dedicated to Lebanese President Elias Al-Hrawi on the occasion of the holy feasts. He also said lifting the American travel ban in Lebanon helped both peoples to better understand each other in a bid boost bilateral ties. Hrawi for his part sent a message to Syrian President Hafez Al-Assaad on the 51st occasion of the foundation of the Arab Socialist Baath Party. In Baabda, the president held talks with a delegation from the doctors' syndicate. He also met a delegation from the dentists' syndicate.
Among the congratulatory messages received today at Baabda was a message from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian President spoke over the phone with Hrawi announcing he intends to visit Lebanon soon. His visit is aimed at discussing recent developments in Lebanon and the region with top Lebanese leaders. Also on the occasion of Al-Adha, Hrawi received congratulatory messages from Saudi King Fahd Bin Abdel Aziz, Jordanian King Hussein, Moroccan King Al-Hasan II, Algerian President Liamine Zeroual, Qatari Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and Sudan President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today called Saudi King Fahd Bin Abdel Aziz and a number of Saudi princes and officials congratulating them on Al-Adha Feast. Hariri earlier visited Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, the head of the higher Shiite Council, Imam Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine and the Druze Qaemmakam, Sheikh Bahjat Ghaith on the same occasion. He also visited his home town Saida where he congratulated his family and residents of the city on the occasion. The premier later headed to his residence in Kraytem where he received a great number Lebanese citizens coming from all parts of the country on the occasion of the feast. Political leaders, religious authorities, military figures, and members of the diplomatic corps visited him in Kraytem today.
In a statement reported by the Agence France Presse, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri announced that he received a message from his French counterpart Lionel Jospin expressing the latter's wish to visit Lebanon at the beginning of next summer; i.e., after French President Jacques Chirac's visit scheduled at the end of May. In his statement, Hariri stressed the need for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 which calls for Israel's immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon. He added the Israelis are trying to deceive the world by stating they are willing to withdraw while Lebanon is rejecting the idea. Hariri also said if their offer is serious, then they should withdraw instead of laying obstacles rendering their offers as mere maneuvers.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir today called Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, the head of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri congratulating them on the occasion of the Eid. In Bkirki, Sfeir met a delegation from La Sagesse Basketball team which recently won the Arab championship. He told the delegation their good spirits should also be present among Lebanon's political leaders.
The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group continues a meeting it started on Monday morning to discuss eight complaints, four filed by Lebanon and four other lodged by Israel over truce violations. The Lebanese complaints centered on Israeli shelling of civilian areas in the Central Sector of the occupied zone, the killing of the civilian Mohammed Asaad Hattab and damage caused in three civilian homes in Nabatieh al-Faouqa and Barasheet. The Israeli side claimed resistance guerrillas blew up a car on the road linking the villages of Markaba and Houla which killed one civilian and wounded three others. The other Israeli complaints also object a number of other road side bomb explosions.
Meanwhile, Israeli shells today fell on the villages of Al-Mansouri and Majdel Zoun. No injuries or casualties were reported.
The Luxurious Hotel in the heart of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
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