Cabinet held its weekly session this morning at the presidential palace in Baabda. The meeting was headed by President Elias Al-Hrawi and attended by Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and the ministers. Discussions centered on a number of "hot" files in the country especially those related to the country's security and economic situation. Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa later announced to reporters a number of decisions taken by cabinet today. Sabaa said cabinet criticized the way some Lebanese media are dealing with security events adding this inflicts great harm upon the country. In another regard, cabinet announced a ministerial committee will be formed to study retirement pensions. Ministers also approved the establishment of a natural preservation area in Al-Yammouneh-Baalback.
Cabinet also agreed that Lebanon take part in the Jerusalem Conference which is expected to be held in Morocco. Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz will represent Lebanon in this event.
A closed-door meeting between President Hrawi and Prime Minister Hariri preceded cabinet's session to discuss the agenda of talks. The premier is expected to leave Beirut later today on a private trip to Paris with his family.
House Speaker Nabih Berri today received former US ambassador to Lebanon John Kelly in parliament. Discussions focused on current local and regional developments. Kelly later called on his country to pay more efforts aimed at saving the deadlocked Middle East peace process. Kelly also described the recent visit of Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad to Paris as beneficial to the European Union and the whole region. Kelly earlier held similar talks with former Prime Minister Saleem Al-Hoss.
Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz yesterday said the Lebanese government will not accept deportees from Germany without ensuring that each of them holds Lebanese citizenship. Boueiz added, "anyone who is to be deported to Lebanon must prove his nationality first". Some of the refugees are Palestinian, others are Kurds. The foreign minister's reply came following Germany's decision to deport all illegal Lebanese immigrants living on its territories.
An agreement was signed yesterday between the governments of Canada and Lebanon aimed at increasing cooperation between the two countries in the field of postal services. A Canadian company signed the deal yesterday with the head of the Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction Nabil Al-Jiser. The accord was agreed upon in the presence of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura, the Canadian ambassador to Lebanon Daniel Marchand, the head of the Canadian company charged with carrying out the project Philip Lamar and a number of officials from both countries. The term of the contract extends over a period of 12 years. The company is charged with facilitating the delivery of mail in all Lebanese areas with the least cost possible and the best conditions.
Intense Israeli shelling late last night targeted the road linking the villages of Arab Saleem and Habboush. Shells also fell on Jabal Safi, Mleeta Hill, the outskirts of the town of Gargoua and different areas in the Iqlim Al-Touffah Mountain Ridges. Phosphoric shells which fell on Arab Saleem caused fires in the town.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese resistance yesterday attacked two positions for the Israeli allied militia in the areas of Sojod and Shkeef An-Namel.
An International Red Cross convoy today carried a number of Lebanese citizens from the village of Nabatieh and other areas in the South to the Israeli-run Khiam Detention Camp. The convoy came from Nabatieh and passed through the Kfar Tibnit border crossing. The families visited around 14 Lebanese detainees in this jail. After spending a few hours with their loved ones, families returned to their villages at noon. The visit today is third in three weeks after a halt of nine months.
The Lebanese American University in Beirut (formerly Beirut University College) is currently hosting a theater festival during which student productions from six Mediterranean countries are being presented. 14 plays are to be produced by students of colleges and universities coming from Syria, Tunisia, Jordan, Greece, Bulgaria and Lebanon. The festival was opened last Tuesday featuring the play, Antigone. Entrance is free for everyone. LAU theater professor Ziad Abuabsi is among many others who view that the festival will help bring closer different cultures in the Mediterranean basin. The festival comes ahead of an expected celebration in the country that will announce Beirut as the cultural capital for the year 1999.
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