News from Beirut August  31  1998 ...Search

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Romania's Premier starts economic and bilateral talks in Beirut

Romania's Prime Minister this morning arrived in Beirut for an official visit to the country. He was received at Beirut's International Airport by his Lebanese counterpart, Premier Rafik Al-Hariri. An official reception was held at his honor attended by a number of Lebanese ministers and deputies. The two premiers later headed to the Grand Saray where they are expected to start talks on ways to boost bilateral ties in light of a number of protocols and agreements signed between their two countries.

Discussions are also centering on the stalled Middle East Peace Process and the situation in occupied South Lebanon. The Romanian Premier will hold a meeting later today with President Elias Al-Hrawi at Baabda. Prime Minister Hariri will host a diner in his honor tonight. On his agenda tomorrow, the Romanian Prime Minister will hold economic talks with members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the capital and financial discussions with Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh.

Four Israeli casualties recorded in the South today

Early at dawn, at least four Israeli soldiers were wounded in South Lebanon. Lebanese Security Forces said they were wounded in an attack by the Lebanese resistance near the Dabshe position. But the Israeli army claimed they were injured when their helicopter crashed while landing in the Dabshe outpost east of Nabatieh.

For its part, the Amal Movement this morning carried out operations against the outposts of Blat, Radar and Qalaat Shkeef scoring direct hits among Israeli soldiers.

Israel continues its attacks on civilian areas

Israel shelled today civilian areas in the Western Bekaa Valley and the South. Heavy shelling targeted the riverbanks of Habboush, Mazraat Al-Hamra, Hema Arnoun, and fields of Sojod and Rayhan in the Iqlim Al-Touffah area. Israeli bombardment of the Southern village of Kfar Roumman damaged the houses of Lebanese civilians Hani Khalil and Mohammed Assi. Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes at noon carried out intensive flights over Nabatieh and Iqlim Al-Touffah.

Monitoring group meets today over seven complaints

The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group is today in session at the UNIFIL's headquarters in the coastal village of Naqoura. The group looks into seven complaints, three filed by Lebanon and four others by Israel.

The Lebanese complaints center on Israeli shelling of civilian areas in South Lebanon, wounding civilians, and inflicting great damage in civilian property. The four complaints lodged by Israel focus on resistance Katyusha attacks on settlements in the Western Galilee. A statement by the group is expected to be issued when the meeting ends.

Non aligned countries to support Lebanon and push the peace process forward

Countries belonging to the non-aligned movement today concluded in Durban, South Africa the preparatory sessions of their foreign ministers before the scheduled summit on September 2. Participants in the meetings adopted a Lebanese communiqué calling for the implementation of international resolutions, adding that any conditions put forward by Israel for the implementation of Resolution 425 would alter the resolution legally and politically and are therefore unacceptable. The Lebanese statement stressed the importance of reaching just peace in the region according to the formula of land for peace agreed upon by the Madrid Conference. The Lebanese communiqué held Israel responsible for the stalemate in the Middle East peace process. The communiqué also called on differentiating between terrorism and national resistance to liberate occupied land.

Sfeir pays first patriarchal visit to Akkar in 150 years

Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir over the weekend paid the northern area of Akkar the first visit by a Maronite Patriarch in 150 years. The Maronite Patriarch celebrated a mass at the town square of Qobeiyyat which is inhabited by more than 75,000 Maronites. Banners welcoming Sfeir were seen everywhere in the town with residents distributing pictures of the patriarch to passing cars. High security measures were taken by the Internal Security Forces. In his mass, the Cardinal described Akkar as a shining example of confessional co-existence.

He also reminded worshippers of the Apostolic Guidance delivered by Pope John Paul II during his Lebanon visit last May, thus urging for more cooperation and co-existence between the different religious sects in the country.

Transport Ministry considers repairing a rail link to Syria

Lebanon's Transportation Minister Omar Miskawi recently announced his ministry was considering a rehabilitation plan of the railway line linking Tripoli to the Syrian border. The overall cost of the project reaches 20 million US dollars. Miskawi added the task of repairing the rail link maybe carried out either by the ministry or by a private company on a BOT basis.

The 39km-line, if repaired, would be mainly used for commercial purposes.

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