A Lebanese-Syrian summit is expected to be held soon between Lebanese President Elias Hrawi and his Syrian counterpart Hafez Al-Assad. During talks over the phone yesterday, the two leaders agreed to meet soon. The summit is expected to tackle recent developments in the region in light of the deadlocked peace process. Assad is also expected to brief Hrawi on the outcome of his talks with French officials in this regard. But the subject of the coming presidential elections in Lebanon is expected to top the agenda of discussions between the two leaders. For his part, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri stressed the importance of holding presidential elections as scheduled for next November.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has suggested the extension of the mandate of the UN Interim Forces in South Lebanon (UNIFIL) for six more months. Annan yesterday told the Security Council the UN troops play a very important role that serves the area's security and stability. In his report to the council, Annan added he therefore recommends that the "Security Council accede to the request of the government of Lebanon and extend the mandate of UNIFIL for another period of six months". The council will informally discuss the UN chief's recommendation in the coming two days.
But the final decision of the 15-member Security Council will not be made public before another week.
Israeli shelling today continued on South Lebanon. This morning, Israel bombarded areas in Nabatieh, Iqlim Al-Touffah and the Western Sector of the occupied zone. Heavy artillery was employed in the attacks. Shells also targeted the villages of Habboush, Kfar Roumman, Youhmor, Majdel Zoun, Arnoun, Jabal Al-Rafii in Iqlim Al-Touffah, and areas in Nabatieh
Al-Faouqa. Israel earlier bombarded the outskirts of Haddatha and Yater in the Western Sector. Mock-air-raids were also carried out over Nabatieh and Iqlim Al-Touffah
The five-nation cease-fire truce panel is in session today at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura. The group looks into three complaints filed by Lebanon over Israeli shelling of civilian areas in South Lebanon last week.
The complaints also center on the injury of Lebanese civilian Ali Karneeb, the injury of two Irish UNIFIL soldiers and damage caused to seven civilian homes in the village of Haddatha and a number of areas in Nabatieh. The monitoring group bans attacks to and from civilian areas.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today said Lebanon might file a complaint to the UN Security Council over Israel's administrative detention of Lebanese in its prisons. Hariri was speaking to a delegation of Immigrant Lebanese youth that visited the premier at his residence in Kraytem today. The delegation is taking part in the second camp for the youth of Lebanon's Diaspora that is currently held in the country. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Immigrants, Talal Arslan. Hariri also told his visitors war in Lebanon is over. He added Lebanon managed to transcend most of its problems adding that the main remaining obstacle is that of the Israeli occupation of areas in South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa. The Lebanese premier also said Lebanon plays a very central and important role in the Middle East peace process despite the fact that Lebanon is a small country.
Hariri called on all immigrants to return to their country expressing the government's will to do anything that might contribute to facilitating their return. He also said the government works on encouraging investment in the country.
A delegation of laid off workers in a number of Lebanese private companies today held a sit-in in front of the government palace. The workers who are currently on strike handed the premier a memorandum concerning their unjustified dismissal and the closure of a number of factories they were working in. The head of the delegation told reporters the premier promised to look more closely into their case. The sit-in was called for by the General Labor Confederation.
For a fifth consecutive week, parliamentary joint committees today continued studying and discussing the remaining clauses of the public sector pay scales draft law in parliament in a bid to ratify the project.
The session was headed by Deputy House Speaker Elie Al-Firzli and attended by Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura and Administrative Reform Minister Bshara Merhej. The project was the subject of talks yesterday at government palace between Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and his visitors. After meeting the premier, Acing Finance Minister Fouad Al-Sanyoura stressed all the retired people in the county will get their rights.
A new development in the case of the recently uncovered spying network accused of collaborating with Israel was recorded today. Concerned Palestinian authorities in Lebanon handed the Lebanese judiciary an officer belonging to the Palestinian Fatah Movement. Officer Ahmad Al-Masri lives in Saida and is accused of belonging to the spy ring. Lebanese authorities are demanding another Fatah officer also accused of working with the network be handed soon. This was today reported by An-Nahar newspaper.
A blue Toyota was discovered this morning at the central parking of the Hammoud Hospital in Saida carrying a mortar shell connected to 60 gr. of dynamite. Witnesses said the car was parked at the hospital last night and was discovered this morning when a parking guard suspected its presence. The owner of the car, Zeineddine Zeidan, directly contacted the concerned security authorities that rushed to the scene and started investigations with the owner. The hospital issued a statement saying the explosives targeted the owner of the car who informed the army of the explosives in his car. But the hospital statement did not mention his name.
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