Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today requested that the ICRC representative in Lebanon John Jacques Fresard not make any kind of contacts with any party concerning the prisoner exchange operation adding these contacts should be restricted to the Lebanese government. The premier's press office today released a statement announcing that the prime minister met at noon today Fresard and he requested that Fresard not make any contacts with any party whether official or nonofficial except with the Lebanese government adding that the subject is a very accurate and sensitive.
The press office also stressed that the negotiations between the Lebanese government and Israel via the International Red Cross are still continuing and the results of these contacts will be announced in the right time.
Prime Minister Hariri will hold talks with President Elias Al-Hrawi at Baabda this evening on recent developments in the country.
High competition dominates the scene in Bekaa just three days before municipal and mayoral elections are expected to be held in the governorate.
This atmosphere prevails amid few signs of consensus in the area. In Zahle, the electoral battle is highly heated between a ticket supported by President Elias Al-Hrawi and another backed by deputy Elie Skaff. Another hot battle is expected on Sunday in the Baalback-Hermel area between
supporters of Amal and Hizbullah. The governor of Bekaa, Farid Al-Qorom, today headed a security and administrative meeting, the last among a series of preparatory meetings that were held up to now. Al-Qorom said this exceptional meeting tackled all kinds of issues aimed at coordinating judicial, administrative and security efforts to ensure the governorate fair and democratic elections.
Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr today said municipal and mayoral elections in some areas of Mount Lebanon are to be postponed till October. Local polls in eight towns in Mount Lebanon and North Lebanon which were earlier postponed as a result of a number of administrative problems will thus again be put off. Local ballots in Hadath, Baabda, Beit Shabab, Biddawi, Ras Masqa, Libbaya, and Khiara were scheduled for June 28. Meanwhile, justice ministry officials today said holding these polls on June 28 will be opposed by the Shura Council because this violates the agreed upon period stated in the municipal and mayoral election law. The judicial source added postponement is the solution. Deputy Pierre Daccache had twice requested the postponement of these polls because of disagreement over the delineation of certain neighborhoods and their separation or merger into districts.
The French ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Jouanneau today held talks at Boustrous Palace with Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz concerning the outcome of the Palermo Conference in Sicily. Jouanneau described Euro-Mediterranean talks in Palermo as encouraging and constructive. The French ambassador told reporters at the foreign ministry his talks with Boueiz also centered on the situation in the region and the difficulties facing the Mideast peace process. He was also updated by Boueiz on the outcome of the visit of the Bulgarian foreign minister to Lebanon. Concerning the World Cup which is taking place in France this year, Jouanneau praised all the teams playing stressing his support to the French team.
After talks with Lebanese foreign minister Faris Boueiz today, the Japanese ambassador to Lebanon Amatso Horigoshi told reporters that the five members of the Japanese Red Army jailed in Lebanon since February 1997 will be deported after completing a three-year sentence in prison. Concerning their deportation without an extradition treaty with Lebanon, the Japanese ambassador said a lot of things can be done with the presence of any kind of agreements. He also refused to predict the judicial condition of those five members when they return to Tokyo adding this was a responsibility of the Japanese Justice Minister.
An appeal for re-trial of those members was recently rejected by the Lebanese court.
Australian House Speaker Ian Sinclair this morning met President Elias Al-Hrawi at the presidential palace in Baabda. He was accompanied by deputy Abdel Rahman Abdel Rahman and the Australian ambassador to Lebanon.
Discussions centered on recent developments in the region and bilateral ties between the two countries. Sinclair later said Lebanon is regaining its important role in the region adding Beirut is not only the capital of Lebanon but that of the whole Middle East. Sinclair along with the accompanying delegation comprising six Australian deputies yesterday held discussions with Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz at Boustrous Palace.
Sinclair stressed the significance of the Lebanese community in Australia's economic and political life. The Australian official also held talks with his Lebanese counterpart Nabih Berri this afternoon. He is scheduled to leave Beirut tomorrow in a bid to continue his Mideast tour which includes Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
The Bulgarian Foreign Minister today left Beirut after an official visit to Lebanon during which she held talks with a number of Lebanese leaders. Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz hosted a dinner last night in honor of Nadejda Mikhailova who later hoped her visit to Lebanon will be a first step towards increasing bilateral cooperation between the two countries on both the economic and political levels. The Bulgarian foreign minister added her talks with Lebanese officials enabled her to form an image of Lebanon today. During her visit, Mikhailova voiced her country's support for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425. She also held talks with President Elias Al-Hrawi and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri.
The Liberian Minister of Industry and Trade today met in Beirut Acting Minister of Finance Fouad Sanyoura. Their meeting tackled bilateral economic ties between the two countries. Sanyoura later said preparations are underway between Lebanon and Liberia to sign cooperation agreements in a bid to encourage bilateral investment. The expected agreements also aim at avoiding double taxation between the two countries. Sanyoura revealed Lebanese businessmen were invited to visit Liberia to explore investment opportunities there.
Chile's central bank governor Carlos Masaad today held talks with President Elias Al-Hrawi at the presidential palace in Baabda. Massad later met the governor of the Lebanese central bank, Riyad Salameh. Talks centered on a number of economic and financial issues of interest to both countries. The Chilean official is of a Lebanese origin coming from the village of Ashqout in Keserouan.
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