News from Beirut September 23  1998 ...Search

Email your presidential candidates. Member of parliament Boutros Harb said he would run in Lebanon's presidential elections planned for October. You can contact him using E-mail : or read about his Personal Biography, Political Life and candidacy speech.

Constitutional deadline for presidential elections begins today

Contacts between Lebanese officials today intensified with the beginning of the constitutional deadline for parliament to elect a new head of state. The deadline extends between a period of one to two months during which parliament is expected to elect a president for the republic. Meanwhile, politicians in the country appear to lean towards the amendment to Article 49 of the constitution which would allow first-rank government employees to run for presidential elections. The amendment would also allow President Elias Al-Hrawi to seek another term and open the door for the formal candidacy of Army Commander General Emile Lahhoud.

In another development today, the head of the National Liberals Party, Dory Shamoun announced his candidacy for the presidential elections during a press conference he held at the headquarters of his party.

Hariri continues talks with world figures in New York

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today continued his meetings and discussions with the heads of the delegations that are taking part in the UN General Assembly sessions in New York. He met this morning the foreign ministers of Russia, Poland, and Italy. The premier held talks late yesterday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amro Moussa, Europe's Mideast Envoy Miguel Angel Moratinus and US Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk.

Meanwhile, Hariri is now laying the final touches upon Lebanese's statement to be delivered tomorrow at the UN General Assembly meeting. In his speech, Lebanon's Premier will stress his country's firm stance regarding comprehensive and just peace in the region. On Friday, Hariri heads to Washington for talks with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Indyk: "We want stability in South Lebanon"

US Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk said his country wants stability in the situation in South Lebanon adding this is a continuous concern for his government. Indyk was speaking to reporters after talks with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri in New York late yesterday. He further described US-Lebanese ties as strong and close. Responding t a question, Indyk denied his country was interfering in the presidential elections in Lebanon.

On the Mideast peace process, Indyk viewed that the simultaneous presence of both the President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu serves as a chance to hold discussions with both leaders on ways to revive peace talks. Indyk expressed hope of more progress in the peace process. But Indyk said his country was not concerned with discussing the French-Egyptian initiative to revive the peace process in the Middle East. He also downplayed the possibility of an agreement to be reached between the Palestinian Authority and Israel before a period of three months.

Moratinus stresses unity of Lebanese-Syrian peace tracks

Europe's Envoy to the Middle East Miguel Angel Moratinus also held talks yesterday with Lebanon's Premier Rafik Al-Hariri. He later told reporters much more work is to be done in a bid to revive the stalled Mideast peace process. Moratinus added peace negotiations should take into the consideration the joint Lebanon-Syrian peace tracks, stressing the unity of  both tracks. He also said both security and political issues should be handled comprehensively, reiterating the importance of the subject of land.

Moussa reiterates balanced and comprehensive peace in the Mideast

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amro Moussa, who is currently in New York to take part in the UN General Assembly meeting, yesterday said that Egypt did not call on the United States to be concerned with the Egyptian-French joint peace initiative. This came in response to statements made on the same day by US Assistant Secretary of State, Martin Indyk. Moussa added he held discussions on this peace initiative with his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine who is also in NY. The Egyptian Foreign Minister said the initiative would be activated in the right time, adding they are now trying to support US peace efforts. He also hoped these efforts would contribute to reaching balanced, comprehensive and just peace in the region.

Sanyoura praises Lebanon's success in reconstruction and regaining international trust

Acting Finance Minister Fouad Sanyoura stressed Lebanon's successful experience in reconstruction. Sanyoura said Lebanon was also successful in regaining international financial trust that was represented by the issuing of international treasury bonds. He added observers cannot but notice the decrease in the percentage of the budget deficit. Sanyoura, who is accompanying Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri in his US visit, made these statements during a meeting with a number of top UN officials in New York yesterday.

Israel attacks civilian areas in the Western Bekaa

Israeli shelling today targeted civilian areas in the Western Bekaa Valley. Shells fell on the outskirts of the village of Qelya, damaging the house of  Sheikh Jawad Zein and a number of civilian homes in the area. Meanwhile, the Lebanese Resistance late last night attacked the Israeli position in Sojod. A statement by the resistance said casualties were scored among the soldiers of the outpost.

In another development, the follow-up committee for Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails today reiterated its call on all families of detainees to fill up special forms regarding the detention of their loved ones. These forms can be found at the press syndicate in Beirut and they will be later sent to the United Nations and the Human Rights Committee on the occasion of the International Day for Human Rights.

Irish Defense Minister on a visit to South Lebanon

Ireland's Defense Minister, Michael Smith, is expected to visit South Lebanon tomorrow to inspect his country's battalion that is working under the UN Interim Forces in the South. The Irish Minister is scheduled to spend two days in the South. He will return to the capital on Saturday and fly back to Ireland on Sunday.

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