Arab League Secretary General Ismat Abdel Majid today visited Beirut and held talks with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri before leaving for Cairo. Discussions centered on the recent Israeli offer of a conditional implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 and Arab efforts to save the deadlocked Middle East peace process. After meeting Hariri, Abdel Majid told reporters at the government palace, the Lebanese stance concerning 425 is very clear. The Arab league Secretary General explained the Israeli proposal as a maneuver aimed at threatening the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks and rendering Resolution 425 void of its real essence.
Arab League Secretary General Ismat Abdel Majid who arrived at Beirut's International Airport at noon reiterated the Arab League's support for the Lebanese stance which calls for Israel?s immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon. He added Resolution 425 is clear and it needs no negotiations or further explanations or proposals. He announced the necessity of holding an Arab summit to face the challenges witnessed in the region. His visit comes after the invitation of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. Abdel Majid was received at the airport by the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon Adel Al-Khodari accompanied with a number of advisors and government officials. The Arab League chief is expected to leave Beirut this evening to Alexandria. He is due to visit Syria next week.
Following yesterday's visit of Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr to Roumieh jail, the situation went back to normal. But shortly afterwards, escalation mounted. Some inmates held four policemen as hostages. Fire also broke at one of the prison's buildings which hosts around 1523 inmates. Three ambulance cars were immediately employed to handle the situation. But a statement was later issued saying the hostages were freed. About 3000 prisoners at Roumieh are demanding better life conditions and less crowded cells. But their main call is to be granted amnesty.
At his residence in Zahle, President Elias Al-Hrawi today received Defense Minister Mohsen Dalloul, Deputy Khalil Al-Hrawi, Bekaa governor Farid Al-Qern and a number of Bekaa delegations. Dalloul after the meeting expected a Syrian-Lebanese summit to be held to resolve differences between the country's three top leaders. Dalloul stressed municipal and mayoral elections will be held on time. The defense minister said the visit of Arab League Secretary General Ismat Abdel Majid to Lebanon is aimed at boosting diplomatic efforts to face Israeli maneuvers on Resolution 425. He added Israel is not willing to implement resolution 425 and after 20 years it was requesting its amendment to render it void of any essence. He hoped UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will realize that this is a dangerous game which will harm the Security Council and the International Organization. Hrawi is spending the Easter Vacation at his residence in Zahle. He will return to Beirut on Monday.
House Speaker Nabih Berri today said the Lebanese stance is unified on the necessity of implementing UN Resolution 425 immediately and unconditionally. Berri was speaking this afternoon during a meeting he held with journalists reporting from South Lebanon. He stressed the important role of Lebanese journalists in the South. In another development, Berri praised the efforts of Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr in resolving the riot at Roumieh Prison. He also stressed local elections will be held as scheduled over a period of four phases: May 24 and 31, June 7 and 14.
Sources of Lebanon's three top leaders could not confirm today a date for a Lebanese-Syrian summit expected to be held in Damascus after the Moslem Feast of Al-Adha. In another development, sources at the presidential palace in Baabda reported President Elias Al-Hrawi's sincerest wishes for all the Lebanese and especially the Christians of Lebanon on the occasion of Easter.
A protocol meeting was held today at the presidential palace in Baabda to discuss preparations for French President Jacques Chirac's scheduled visit to Lebanon on the 30th of next month. Discussions centered on the agenda of Chirac's visit which includes meetings with President Elias Al-Hrawi. House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. During his visit, Chirac will also inaugurate the Palais de Pins and open the conference of Francophone Heads of Municipalities. The French official delegation which visited Baabda today is comprised of 16 diplomatic and security French officials.
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