News from Beirut June 19  1998 ...Search

Hariri meets Kofi Annan in New York

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri arrived in New York yesterday after he had met in Washington US President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and several of her aides.

In New York, Hariri will discuss UNIFIL's mandate, which comes up for renewal at the end of the month, with secretary general Kofi Annan. Hariri said he will seek Annan?s views on how to cope with Norway's decision to decrease the size of its contingent from 600 to 200.

The Norwegian defense ministry yesterday said Norway is planning to pull most of its peacekeeping troops out of Lebanon at the end of the year. A statement by the ministry added about 400 out of Norway's 600 UNIFIL troops and officers would withdraw under the government's plan.

Hariri's talks with Annan will also center on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 in light of Israeli proposals to conditionally withdraw from South Lebanon.

Hariri optimistic after talks in Washington

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri yesterday showed some optimism after meeting US President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He said he was confident that President Clinton is "committed to the Mideast peace process" and that there will be movement in the next few weeks on the Lebanese and Syrian tracks.

On Israel's recent proposal on 425, Hariri described Israel's demand for security guarantees as "a very dangerous game". He ridiculed Israeli claims that Lebanon posed a threat to its security wondering "Who should fear the other?" The Lebanese premier added Lebanon is not responsible for the security of Israel and its northern border. He also stated that the resistance would voluntarily lay down its arms once the Israeli occupation ended.

Assad in Beirut by October

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri said in Washington yesterday that Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad will make his first official visit to Lebanon by next October. Hariri added the visit comes in response to an invitation from President Elias Al-Hrawi. He added that president Assad will visit the presidential palace in Baabda for talks with his Lebanese counterpart. The exact date of the visit has not been set yet.

Assad met in 1971 President Suleiman Franjieh in the Bekaa, but the visit was brief and unofficial.

Hariri also said that relations with Syria are very strong and that the two countries constantly coordinate with each other particularly on the peace process.

Hrawi satisfied with Hariri's talks

President Elias Al-Hrawi yesterday expressed satisfaction with the results of Prime Minister Hariri's talks in the US. Hrawi said Hariri had kept him up to date in a telephone call. Jbeil MP Mahmud Awwad after meeting Hrawi in Baabda said the president is comfortable with the results of the premier's efforts. Awwad added Hrawi was sure that UNIFIL's mandate will be renewed automatically. Lebanon, Hrawi reportedly said, had the support of both France and China against any veto in the security council.

On a local level, Hrawi affirmed that mayoral and municipal elections for newly created or postponed municipalities will take place as scheduled.

Last independence man dies

Lebanon yesterday list the last of its independence symbol with the death of Adel Osseiran. The veteran statesman died yesterday at the age of 93 after long suffering from disease. He is due to be buried in Sidon today, Friday which was officially announced a day of national mourning.

Osseiran was eulogized by many Lebanese leaders which described him as "one of Lebanon's founding fathers" and as "an example of a generation of  politicians who entered the arena through the gates of knowledge,

competency and hard work in favor of Lebanon's unity and independence".

A profile on Adel Osseiran's life

Adel Osseiran is remembered by the Lebanese as one of several leaders who contributed to Lebanon's independence from France in 1943. During that year of struggle, Osseiran then a minister, together with president Bshara Khoury, Prime Minister Riad Al-Solh, ministers Salim Takla and Camille Chamoun, and Tripoli MP Abdel Hamid Karameh, was imprisoned in Rashayya citadel by French forces.

After his release, Osseiran continued a political career which lasted for about 50 years and which made him one of Lebanon's prominent politicians.

Osseiran is survived by his 51-year old son, Ali, a current Zahrani MP.

Israel uses "new" shells in South Lebanon

Tele Liban said yesterday reports from South Lebanon indicated that Israeli occupying forces used a completely new kind of shells. The shells, according to the source, resulted in unusually loud explosions and emitted strange glow and bad odor that lasted for at least 24 hours. The shells also seemed to have been especially targeted at plantation since they proved to have extreme destructive and burning effect.

Also, Israeli artillery targeted a number of southern villages north of the occupied zone which resulted in the damaging of a house in Qaqaiet Al-Jiser.

Two killed in a car explosion in Dora

A "Renault 19" exploded early today near St. Maroun church in Dora. It resulted in the death of its driver Tony Moussa Bou-Nakhly from Zouk Michael and another George Fouad Deeb from Jiser Al-Basha who happened to be in the area.

The blast caused panic in the area while army troops surrounded the place and security forces started an investigation.

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