Efforts to resolve a weekend incident between President Elias Al-Hrawi and the publisher of the weekly al-Shiraa magazine Hassan Sabra continued today. President Hrawi had slapped opposition journalist Sabra in the face at the house of interior minister Michel Al-Murr in Btighreen who was receiving condolences on the death of his mother. Sabra who wanted to shake hands with the president was told by Hrawi: "Get out of my face". But sources said Sabra insisted and insulted the president so the latter gave him a slap in the face. Sabra frequently criticized the government's different attempts at administrative reform. He recently criticized Hrawi's proposal of an optional civil marriage law to be implemented in the country.
The Press and Editors syndicates held a meeting at noon today to discuss the incident. The meeting was headed by the head of the press syndicate Mohammed Baalbacki and the head of the Editors syndicate Melhem Karam. A special committee will be in charge of issuing a statement later today following their meeting.
The statement will announce a joint stance in this regard. The talks were preceded by a short meeting which grouped Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa, Minister Marwan Hmadi, Baalbacki and Karam. Sabaa later refused to speak to reporters.
President Elias Al-Hrawi today held talks with Immigrants Minister Talal Arslan. He later met deputy Mohammed Abdel Latif Kabbara. Hrawi also received the Maronite Archbishop of Zahle Marwan Iskandar and the Archbishop of the Assyrian Orthodox Christians of Beirut and Zahle Fram Barsoum.
Also at the presidential palace in Baabda, Hrawi later held a lunch meeting with Administrative Reform Minister Bshara Merhej, Agriculture Minister Shawki Fakhoury, and Minister of Social Affairs Ayyoub Hmayyed among other officials.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today conducted a dialogue with members of the syndicate of Lebanese contractors. The dialogue was described by some participants in the meeting as frank and lively. During the meeting, Hariri answered a number of recurrent questions posed by Lebanese contractors.
In another regard today, Prime Minister Hariri's press office informed deputies and officials who wish to visit the premier that he cannot receive them today because he is very busy with other urgent issues.
The premier's office also announced a public day-off will be held on July 6 on the occasion of Prophet Mohammed?s birthday.
Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam today expressed comfort at the outcome of three big strides recently accomplished by Lebanon: municipal and mayoral elections, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's US visit, and the swap operation of Lebanese prisoners and martyrs with Israel. Khaddam discussed these topics during a meeting he held yesterday in Damascus with
Lebanese Administrative Reform Minister Bshara Merhej. Khaddam also described Hariri's visit to Washington as successful as the swap operation which reinforced Lebanon's unity.
Joint parliamentary committees will continue their discussions on the public sector pay scales draft law tomorrow. In parliament today, two meetings were held by the committees of administration and justice and economy and commerce. During the meeting of the parliamentary administration and justice committee headed by deputy Shaker Abu- Sleiman, a draft law regarding the licensing of the trade and exchange of gold and other metals was ratified. Buying, selling, importing and exporting gold and other metals had been banned since the year 1945. For its part, the committee of economy and commerce held a meeting headed by deputy Mohammed Fneish. The committee ratified a project allowing the government to sign a trade deal with Iran.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir today received a delegation from the Maronite League headed by Pierre Helou. Helou later said discussions centered on the Beit Eddine Conference currently being held to discuss the case of the war-displaced people. Although he described the conference as positive, Helou expressed doubts regarding its success saying "I don't think that the conference will lead to the return of the war displaced, but it will help."
Sfeir later received the Papal and Italian ambassadors to Lebanon at Bkirki.
Beirut MP Bahaa Al-Deen Itani today demanded more precaution measures should be implemented on Lebanese shores especially in public beaches. His call was prompted by the tragic death of a father while trying to save his two sons at a public beach in Sidon yesterday. The man, Jamal Ibrahim Ghalayeeneh, 41, drowned as he was trying to save his two teenage sons who were caught up in strong currents. There were no lifeguards at the beach but some people who were present there at the time of the accident managed to rescue the two children but were unable to save the father.
The Ministry of Social Affairs is organizing six summer camps that will start on the 21st of July. As part of its developmental strategy, the ministry organizes these summer camping projects in a number villages and towns in the governorates of the North, the South, the Bekaa, Mount Lebanon and Nabatieh. The projects will be carried our over two phases; the first extending between July 21 and August 7 and the second between August 12-29.
This was announced by the Minister of Social Affairs Ayyoub Hmayyed during a press conference he held at his ministry today. Hmayyed added a number of social and developmental projects will be carried out in the areas close to these summer camps. He also called on all Lebanese youth to volunteer in this national project.
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