News from Beirut May 1 1998 ...Search

Diplomatic activity on short vacation

May 1, the international labor day, brought the vehement diplomatic activity that occupied the last few days into a halt. This activity was basically centered on Israeli proposals concerning UN Resolution 425.

European envoy Miguel Angel Mrotinos leaves Lebanon today after "clarifying" Israeli intent on 425. He will be back in Lebanon in two weeks' time carrying new ideas he hopes may help restart the peace process.

Secretary general of the Francophone group, Butro Butros-Ghali left Beirut for Paris this morning. Ghali had participated in the 12th conference of the Francophone agency for higher education and research held in the UNESCO palace in Beirut and had had talks with high-ranking Lebanese officials. Before leaving Ghali expressed his readiness to support Lebanon with all diplomatic effort needed. Ghali also thanked the Lebanese for their renowned hospitality and expressed that Lebanon will regain its important regional and international role soon.

Boueiz was not impressed

Foreign minister Fares Boueiz said EU envoy Moratinos did not present any proposals concerning the south or the peace process in general. Boueiz explained Moratinos came again to listen and to ask.

However, Boueiz dismissed Moratinos' efforts as redundant, given Europe's diverse views on foreign policy and its minor role in the region compared to the US. "While Lebanon would like to see an active EU role", Boueiz added, "there is little hope for a European initiative that would back Lebanon's stand against the Israeli pullout offer and revitalize regional talks.

Boueiz also said, "Moratinos tried to make optimistic predictions about future moves without having a clear-cut vision about the possibility of action.

Hrawi meets Norwegian Churches delegation

President Elias Hrawi today received the delegation representing Norwegian churches at the Baabda presidential palace. They were accompanied by the Armenian Orthodox patriarch Aram the First and archbishop Kegan Kasharian.

A delegation representative said they are working to strengthen relations between Norway and Lebanon and between the churches in the two countries.

A letter of support from China

Foreign minster Fares Boueiz received a letter yesterday from his Chinese counterpart in answer to Lebanon's letter on its stance concerning Israeli proposed on a conditional implementation of 425. The Chinese letter affirmed that China has the same stance Lebanon has concerning 425 which needs no interpretation or amendment.

The letter also mentioned the Chinese foreign minister told China's permanent representative in the UN to co-ordinate with Lebanon's representative in this respect.  Lebanon had asked China to support its position with a Chinese veto in case of any efforts to amend UN  Resolution 425.

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