News from Beirut June 22 1998 ...Search

Two RPGs exploded Sunday near the American embassy with no damage

Two rocket propelled grenades exploded yesterday afternoon in the Awkar area near the American embassy. No damage or casualties were reported.

Sources said the RPGs were triggered by a remote-control device placed 800 meters away. Military and judicial officials are investigating the incident which is likely to have been intended to cause panic more than damage. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright yesterday revealed an investigation is going on adding everything is under control.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz delivered a statement condemning the attack adding it was aimed to undermine the country's security. Boueiz is expected to hold a press conference later today in this regard.

Murr reveals a security meeting will be held tomorrow

At the presidential palace in Baabda Interior minister Michel Al-Murr held talks with President Elias Al-Hrawi. Discussions centered on the subject of  administrative reform and de-centralization. Murr later told reporters at the palace he will head a central security meeting tomorrow at the ministry. Three incidents are expected to top the agenda of talks: Friday's car explosion at Dora, yesterday's attack near the US embassy, and also yesterday's shooting spree in Beirut's Southern suburbs following the victory of Iran over the United States in a World Cup football fame held yesterday in the French city of Leon. In anther development today, around 22 hand grenades were found in a plastic bag dumped in a trash bin in Dora.

Hariri back home tonight following talks in Paris and the US

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri last night held talks in Paris with French President Jacques Chirac. The Lebanese premier briefed Chirac on the outcome of his talks in Washington, New York and Atlanta. Hariri's US visit included discussions with US President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and a number of political and diplomatic officials on the Mideast peace process and the situation in South Lebanon. France yesterday reiterated its support for the unconditional implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 and the extension of the UNIFIL mandate in South Lebanon. President Chirac also congratulated Lebanon on its accomplishment of the municipal and mayoral election process in different parts of the country. Hariri is expected in Beirut late this evening.

Khaddam stresses Lebanese-Syrian coordination

Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam last night said Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri presented in Washington both Lebanon and Syria's views on the current situation of the Middle East peace process.

Khaddam reiterated the continuous coordination and cooperation between Lebanon and Syria especially regarding the peace talks. After his talks in Paris yesterday, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri stressed the importance of activating all tracks in the peace process. He added Lebanon and Syria are ready to restart negotiations from where they left off.

Jones describes Hariri's US visit as successful

The US ambassador to Lebanon Richard Jones announced that Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's discussions with the US administration were successful.

He added the United States was responsive to Lebanon's stance regarding the peace process. The US ambassador added Prime minister Hariri could effectively convey Lebanon's stance regarding the peace process and the need to restart negotiations between Lebanon, Syria and Israel. Jones also praised Hariri's extensive efforts aimed at boosting bilateral ties between Lebanon and the US. Jones refused to comment on the Awkar blast adding the investigations are being conducted by concerned Lebanese authorities. Jones was speaking after meeting Acting Finance Minister Fouad Al-Sanyoura who accompanied Prime Minister Hariri during his visit to the US.

Prisoner swap operation to be followed by Hariri

As soon as he arrives in Lebanon, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri will take special care in following the file of the expected prisoner swap operation between Lebanon and Israel. Sources today said the operation is expected to be carried out sometime this week. At noon today, the Israeli radio quoted Jerusalem sources as saying France provided guarantees for this operation adding it will support the operation financially and logistically. The Israeli radio added that the bodies of the Lebanese martyrs will be carried by planes to Beirut's International Airport. It also revealed around 60 prisoners including 50 from the Khiam detention center will arrive to Lebanon through the Kfar Falous border crossing. The swap includes the exchange of the remains of an Israeli soldier who died during a failed commando operation in the village of Ansariyeh with a number of Lebanese prisoners and bodies of Lebanese martyrs.

Lebanon witnesses high diplomatic activities

Europe's special Mideast envoy Miguel Angel Moratinus is expected to arrive in Beirut tomorrow following talks he held yesterday in Damascus with Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad and Syrian foreign minister Farouq Al-Sharaa. Moratinus said he was carrying some ideas that could activating the Lebanese and Syrian tracks in the peace process.

In another development, the Canadian foreign ministry's Mideast coordinator, Andrew Robinson arrived in Beirut today. The Canadian official held talks with the foreign ministry's secretary general Zafer Al-Hassan.

He briefed Al-Hassan on the outcome of his talks with the delegation of donor countries of humanitarian aides to Palestinian refugees. Robinson will hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon at the Mariott Hotel In Beirut in this regard. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to visit a number of  Palestinian camps around the country.

Demonstrators rally against child labor outside parliament

Young and old demonstrators protested against child labor during a rally they held outside parliament. The rally was organized by the Lebanese Association for Human Rights and a number of social workers and volunteers.

The protesters carried banners and chanted slogans calling on the concerned authorities to protect children from violence and inhumane working conditions. Some social workers were calling on the government to implement a draft law increasing the fines on violators of children's rights. One social worker revealed the law was already in parliament awaiting discussion. There are thousands of under-age children working in Lebanon in different professions and suffering from abusive working conditions.

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