Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz also voiced fears of a wide-scale Israeli attack on South Lebanon. He reportedly added Israel could use internal political problems in the US as well as American attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan as a cover for a large-scale attack against Lebanon. Lebanon today widened its contacts by calling upon France and the US to ensure the situation in the South remains under control expressing concern over Israel's threats.
France and the Islamic Republic of Iran are ready to look for a solution to help ease tension in South Lebanon. This was announced yesterday by French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine at the end of a two-day official visit to Iran. Vedrine told a press conference Tehran and Paris had decided to co-operate once again as they did in the past to help Lebanon. The French official's statements came as Lebanese leaders warned of a possible Israeli offensive to be carried out against the country and its infrastructure. The Israeli threats were voiced last week by Internal Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani who warned Lebanon's infrastructure would be hit whenever Israeli soldiers were killed in the South.
The secretary general of the Arab League Issmat Abdel Majid is expected in Beirut tomorrow as Lebanese officials express fears of a wide-scale Israeli attack on South Lebanon and Lebanese Infrastructure. During his visit, he is scheduled to hold meetings with a number of top Lebanese officials. Abdel Majid's talks with Lebanese leaders are expected to center on the current situation in the South and its Israeli occupied zone in addition to recent developments in the region.
House Speaker Nabih Berri said he did not see anything new in the current Israeli threats. He added these threats will always be there as long as Israeli occupation of the South and the Western Bekaa persisted. The House Speaker also said he was not worried of the high pitch of these threats adding such sounds were heard before. But Berri expressed fears concerning the stability of the situation in the South. The House Speaker also warned that any major Israeli onslaught on Lebanon would end the April 1996 understanding.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri called upon Israel to choose the political solution of peace in a bid to end the current situation in the South. He also called upon Israeli leaders to stop launching threats which, he added, can only increase violence without inducing any political changes.
At the grand Saray, the premier today reportedly stressed presidential elections will be held as scheduled next fall. Hariri today held talks with Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa, Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr, Industry Minister Nadim Salem and a number of deputies at the new government house.
Israeli President Azar Weizman today said Israel will only pullout its troops from Lebanon once security guarantees are granted by Lebanon or Syria. According to Israel, those guarantees are expected to ensure the security of residents in Northern Israel. Thus, he reiterated his rejection for a unilateral Israeli pullout from South Lebanon. But the Israeli president added there is consensus in Israel for the need to withdraw from the South. Weizman was speaking during a meeting he held with representatives of the Four Mothers Movement in Israel.
Israeli bombardment today targeted different areas in the Iqlim Al-Touffah Mountain Ridges, the riverbanks of Zahrani and Litani, Zawtar, Wadi Al-Kfour, Habboush, and the outskirts of Froun, and Ghandourieh. Israeli warplanes also carried out intensive flights over the Western and Central sectors of the occupied zone.
In another development, a bomb exploded today in the village of Tibnin killing Lebanese civilian Mohammed Abbas Mokalled and wounding his three children. Security forces are investigating the blast.
Meanwhile, the Saraya Movement, a unit of Hizbullah, today announced it carried out operations on Israeli positions in Blat, Qssayr, Salaa scoring direct hits in the attacks.
Reports from South Lebanon today said Israel has been reinforcing its positions at the edge of the zone it occupies in the South. The sources added heavy artillery, cannons, and tanks are being placed in some outposts.
The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group is expected to meet sometime this week at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura. The panel will meet in light of continued Israeli attacks on South Lebanon. The group, comprising delegates from Israel, Lebanon, France, and the US, is scheduled to look into a number of Lebanese complaints that are related to Israeli violations of the April 1996 truce agreement by shelling civilian areas in the South and the Western Bekaa. The understanding bans attacks to and from civilian-inhabited areas.
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