News from Beirut July 20 1998 ...Search

Hrawi announces all security agencies on the alert in the country

Presidnet Elias Al-Hrawi yesterday announced all secuity agencies in Lebnaon are on the alert adding those who intend to mess with the country's security will be soon discovered. The presidnet was speaking late yesterday during a dinner he hosted at his summer residnece in Zahle. Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and a number of ministers, deputies and Zahle officials were there. Hrawi is currently on vacation and he is receiving congratulations on the occasion of the birthday of his patron, Mar Elias.

Assad stresses he will visit Lebanon before the end of the year

At the end of his three-day visit to France, Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad reiterated his plan to visit Lebanon before the end of the year. Speaking to reporters in Paris, Assad confirmed he would visit Beirut in autumn. The Syrian president today held talks over the phone with his Lebanese counterpart Elias Al-Hrawi in a bid to congratulate him on the birthday of his patron Mar Elias. Assad also briefed Hrawi on the outcome of his visit to Paris regarding his discussions on ways to kick-start peace negotiations in the region. Presidential sources said the exact date of Assad's visit to Lebanon might be determined during the expected summit between the two leaders.

Lebanese premier praises Assad visit to Paris

In a statement to the French newspaper Le Figaro published this morning, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri praised Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad's visit to France. He added this visit tends to bring closer bilateral ties between France and Syria, two close and dear friends of Lebanon. He said this will reinforce Lebanon's stance in the face of Israel. The premier also said France's stances regarding the Middle East peace process are similar to those of Lebanon and Syria despite some slight differences.

Hariri added this also applies to the issue of Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon because, he said, the three capitals (Beirut, Damascus and Paris) call for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 without conditions and for Israel's withdrawal from the Syrian Golan Heights.

Hariri holds a number of diplomatic meetings today

At the governmental palace, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today met the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ahmad Al-Kouhaimeh who delivered the salutes of Saudi King Fahd Bin Abdel Aziz. Hariri later received a delegation from the council of Lebanese immigrants in Australia headed by Ghassan Karakeh and in the presence of the Australian ambassador to Lebanon. After the meeting, Karakeh said the delegation inspected the true situation in Lebanon regarding economy and reconstruction adding the accompanying Australian deputies will transmit a vivid image to their parliament in this regard.

The delegation also invited Prime Minister Hariri to visit Australia under the framework of boosting bilateral ties between Lebanon and Australia.

A number of committees meet in parliament

Three parliamentary committees today met in parliament. The committee of justice and administration held a meeting headed by deputy Shaker Abu-Sleiman in a bid to study a draft law calling for the establishment of the national committee for Lebanese Women's Affairs. The parliamentary committee of economy, trade, industry, and oil also met today. Deputy Ali Al-Khalil headed the session of the committee of immigrants and foreign affairs. The committees studied and discussed a number of draft laws and projects waiting to be ratified.

Also in parliament, House Speaker Nabih Berri held talks with the governor of Lebanon's central bank Riyad Salameh.

Israeli shelling continues in the South

Israel this morning shelled the outskirts of Al-Maslakh neighborhood in the village of Nabatieh in South Lebanon. Israeli shells also fell on a number of villages in the hills of Iqlim Al-Touffah. Mock-air raids were also carried out over the area. Early this morning, shelling targeted areas in Kfar Roumman, Habboush and Nabatieh destroying two civilian homes in Kfar Roumman. The houses belong to Ibrahim Shakroun and Ibrahim Noureddine. The road linking Nabatieh to areas in Iqlim Al-Touffah and Wadi Al-Kfour was also bombarded.

Electricity workers hold a warning strike today

The union of Electricite du Liban today held a one-day warning strike. The union called for the strike last Thursday saying that staff working in power stations and transformer facilities alone would not be included in the strike in a bid to prevent power cuts. But the head of the union, Abdel-Ghani Abla, yesterday vowed workers will hold an open-ended strike if their different demands are not met before the end of this month. The workers are demanding an increased subsidy for employees to pay for their children's education in addition to retroactive payments. Other benefit demands include the establishment of a loan scheme that would pay for housing and healthcare. Workers are also asking for a new salary scale to be followed.

The union will convene next Wednesday with Minister of Electricity and Water Resources Elie Hobeika to outline their demands. For his part, Hobeika is expected to raise the issue during a cabinet session scheduled later that day.

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