Europe's Mideast Envoy Miguel Angel Moratinus today revealed he will present a strategic peace plan to the meeting of EU foreign ministers due to be held next Monday in Luxembourg. Moratinus was speaking after talks with Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz at Boustrous Palace. He explained his plan will not constitute an alternative to US efforts paid in this regard.
Moratinus also stressed the importance of the implementation of Resolution 425 reminding that the EU adopted the resolution in the Cardiff summit.
After his visit to the foreign ministry, Moratinus headed to the village of Naqoura in a bid to inspect the work of UNIFIL troops there. Moratinus' visit to Beirut comes as part of a Mideast tour which also includes Syria and Israel.
The special coordinator of the Middle East peace process and refugee affairs at the Canadian Foreign Ministry, Andrew Robinson today briefed Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri on some suggestions presented by the International delegation that visited Palestinian refugee camps across the country last May. One of the ideas include a donation of 15 million US dollars to launch private projects in these camps.
After meeting the Lebanese premier at the government palace, Robinson headed southwards to inspect Palestinian camps in South Lebanon excluding the Ain Al-Helweh camp near Sidon which held a strike protesting this exclusion.
At the Lebanese foreign ministry today, two cooperation accords were signed between Lebanon and Tunisia. The first agreement aims at abolishing the system of double taxation and encouraging investment between the two countries. A protocol of cooperation was also signed between the two foreign ministries.
This after talks held between the Tunisian foreign minister Saeed Bin Mustafa and his Lebanese counterpart Faris Boueiz at Boustrous Palace. Discussions centered on the Middle East Peace process, the European-Mediterranean Partnership and ways to boost bilateral ties between the two countries mainly on the economic level.
The Tunisian official will hold talks later today with House Speaker Nabih Berri. He is scheduled to meet tomorrow President Elias Al-Hrawi and Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The Tunisian foreign minister will also meet a number of Lebanese industrialists and businessmen at the chamber of commerce and industry in Beirut.
Cabinet will meet tonight at the presidential palace in Baabda. The session headed by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri is the first cabinet meeting in three weeks because of the government's occupation with municipal and mayoral elections. 64 clauses are on the agenda of talks today. During the session, Prime Minister Hariri is expected to brief cabinet on his discussions in the US, France, and Syria.
Cabinet will also discuss the situation of roads in the Bekaa and the North and the financial problems of the state-run Tele Liban among other current issues in the country. Also on the agenda of talks today are the recent security incidents that were recorded in Dora and Awkar.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today held talks with the French Ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Jouanneau. The French ambassador later denied that their talks tackled the subject of the swap operation due to be carried out between Lebanon and Israel adding he discussed with the premier the general situation in the region and bilateral ties between France and Lebanon.
Jouanneau stressed that the International Red Cross Committee is the party in charge of this issue.
Prime Minister Hariri had earlier met the minister of municipal affairs Hagop Demerjian. After the meeting, Demerjian announced he will continue performing his tasks in the ministry adding "when the prime minister requests from a certain minister to continue his tasks, we will take this responsibility and we will continue working in the ministry".
Hariri also held talks with the head of the general labor confederation Ghaneim Al-Zoghbi who later stressed his resignation decision did not change adding contacts are underway between all labor unions in a bid to reach consensus before the GLC elections expected next July.
Among other visitors of the government palace today were deputies Ahmad Fatfat, Wajih Al-Baarini, and the head of the chamber of industry and commerce Adnan Al-Qassar.
The American ambassador to Lebanon Richard Jones today revealed the Awkar blast was aimed at severing bilateral ties between Lebanon and the US. Jones added investigations are still underway. He also said those RPGs were launched to shake the security situation in the country and not to target the Amercian embassy in Beirut. Jones added "we still have to wait for the results of the investigations". But the American ambassador denied the incident was linked to the recent decision of US President Bill Clinton to remove travel restrictions to Lebanon. Jones today held talks with House Speaker Nabih Berri, his deputy Elie Al-Firzli and Health Minister Suleiman Franjieh.
The Italian ambassador today said Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri could clarify to the American administration and to the United Nations Lebanon's firm stance regarding its rejection to separate the Lebanese-Syrian peace tracks and also Lebanon's refusal to accept any conditions concerning the withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon under UN Resolution 425.
The Italian ambassador added Prime Minister Hariri's visits to Washington and New York were very useful to Lebanon. But he said although the US President is honestly willing to push the peace process forward, the US government is also tied down to the Congress whereby the majority supports the Israeli stance for reasons, he said, related to the internal policy of Washington. He was speaking to reporters after talks with Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura held at his ministry. Discussions between the two sides also centered on a number of economic and financial bilateral ties.
The joint parliamentary committees today continued discussing the public sector pay scales draft law in parliament. The project was discussed today clause by clause during a meeting headed by deputy House Speaker Elie Al-Firzli. The joint committees were briefed on the viewpoints of the concerned committees, a number of deputies, and that of the government presented by Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura. Sanyoura stressed the government's insistence on the ratification and implementation of the project. He also told reporters the project serves as a first step towards achieving administrative reform in the country.
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