Europe's Mideast envoy Miguel Angel Moratinus today arrived in Beirut coming from Damascus where he held talks with top Syrian officials on ways to kick-start peace talks in the region. In Lebanon, the European envoy said UN Security Council Resoltuion 425 must be implemented unconditionaly by Israel. He added peace talks should resume on the basis of the Madrid confernce. Moratinus was speaking to reporters after holding separate meetings with Presidnet Elias Al-Hrawi at Baabda and House Speaker Nabih Berri at parliament. The European envoy briefed the two leaders on European Union ideas regarding ways to kick-start peace negotiations on the Lebanese and Syrian fronts with Israel. Moratinus is expected to conduct similar meetings in Israel later in the week.
Israel again breached today the April cease-fire understanding by injuring a Lebanese civilian and bombarding residential areas in the South. 70-year-old Ali Al-Hadi was wounded in the Southern village of Baraasheet due to Israeli shelling. This brings to 38 the number of civilians injured in the South since the start of the year. Meanwhile, Israeli shelling, which targeted other civilian areas in the South, caused damage in eight homes in the village of Ayta Al-Jabal.
In another development, one Israeli allied militiaman was killed this morning during a resistance operation which targeted his patrol on the road leading to Beit Yahoon in the occupied zone.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today laid the foundation stone of the new Lebanese University campus in Haddath. The project is mainly assisted by grants from Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman. In his speech, the premier warned presidential elections expected next fall will not solve the current problems the country is facing. He stressed political forces in Lebanon should overcome self-interests, avoid war mentality and participate in a process of administrative and political reform. Hariri also reiterated the government is committed to helping the war displaced return to their villages and towns. He added the government will continue its reconstruction process. On security issues, the premier said no one will be allowed to disrupt national stability in the country.
The head of the higher Shiite Council Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine today announced he does not expect an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, but also added he neither expects another Israel invasion of the country. He said a new invasion does not serve the interest of Israel. Shamseddine also said Israel will continue its daily aggressions on the South. Regarding the Mideast peace process, Shamseddine downplayed the possibility of any success to be recorded in this regard saying Israel refuses any kind of a just formula for peace in the region. Shamseddine was speaking to reporters in Iran where he is on an official visit which ends tomorrow.
Oman's Information Minister Abdel Aziz Al-Rawwas today visited Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri at government palace. Al-Rawwas had represented the Sultanate of Oman during the ceremony held to lay the foundation stone for the new Lebanese University campus in Haddath earlier today. Oman is a major contributor to funding this project alongside Saudi Arabia. Al-Rawwas reiterated his country's support for Lebanon's unity and independence.
Joint parliamentary committees today resumed its discussions on the remaining clauses of the public sector pay scales draft law. The committees are schedueled to hold sessions during this week to discuss retroactive payments for the retired and other issues related to the situation of Information Ministry employees. The follow-up committee for the rights of these employees who form around 90% of the staff working at the Ministry of Information objected to the fact that they were deprived of their rights in the public sector pay scales project.
The Trans-Mediterranean Airways yesterday announced it will start weekly flights to Shanghai-China in Mid-August. The National Cargo Airline's chairman Fadi Saab said the company is also seeking to launch routes to Japan and Singapore in the near future. Saab added this will help develop trade and transit activities in the country. The new route launched during an official ceremony last night renders TMA the only Arab aircraft carrier to fly to Shanghai.
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