LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1,21-28. Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Latest news from Miscellaneous sources for January 10/07
Helicopters attack Somalia militant suspects - AP
Army Commander Vows to Protect Public Institutions -Naharnet
Gemayel Urges Judiciary to Speed Up investigation with SSNP members -Naharnet
Labor Unions Protest Government-Approved Economic Plan -Naharnet
SSNP Denies Gemayel's Accusations -Naharnet
U.N. Team to Compare Explosives to those Used in Hariri Murder -Naharnet
Olmert in China to Discuss Iran, Palestine and Lebanon -Naharnet
Israel: Hizbullah has rebuilt its arsenal -Naharnet
New U.N. Chief Says He Will Search for Stability in Mideast, Lebanon -Naharnet
Syrian Opposition Figures Face Court This Month -Naharnet
Geagea Criticizes 'Syrian Structured' Labor Union -Naharnet
Lebanon opposition widens anti-government campaign-Washington Post
Lebanese demonstrate outside Beirut tax office-Reuters
Syria criticizes Washington's Middle East policies-People's Daily Online
Will Lebanon find a way out of crisis?Gulf News
Syria denounces Israeli occupation as root of regional crisis-People's Daily Online
U.S. strike targets al-Qaida in Somalia - AP
MI chief: Syria lowering war readiness-Ynetnews
US to lose credibility if not has dialogue with Syria, Syrian official-People's Daily Online
Increasing Pressure for Israel-Syria Peace Talks-Arutz Sheva
Olmert Admits That Lebanon, Gaza Pullouts Didn't Work-CNSNews.com
South Korea Set to Deploy Troops to Lebanon-Korea Times
Mofaz: Goals in Lebanon War Unmet-Arutz Sheva
Mubarak: Syria interested in true peace-Jerusalem Post
War in Lebanon and War on Terror-Washington Report on Middle East Affairs - Washington,DC,USA
Jordanian Security Killed Qaeda member in a Shootout -Naharnet
Rice to Jordan Sunday -Naharnet
Jordanian Police Kill Suspected Qaida Activist -Naharnet
New Video of Saddam's Corpse Posted on Internet -Naharnet
Fatah Frees Kidnapped Hamas Official Amid High Factional Tensions -Naharnet
U.S. strike targets al-Qaida in Somalia
WASHINGTON - The U.S. military launched a strike against several suspected members of al-Qaida in Somalia, a government official said Monday night. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the operation's sensitivity, said at least one AC-130 gunship was used in the attack.
CNN, NBC and CBS first reported the military action. Citing Pentagon officials, CBS said the targets included the senior al-Qaida leader in East Africa and an al-Qaida operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The same operatives are also believed responsible for a 2002 attack on Israeli tourists in Kenya and an attempt to shoot down an Israeli aircraft the same day, NBC News reported. The 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed more than 250 people. The 2002 attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya killed 15. The White House on Monday night would not confirm the incident. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Vician, a Defense Department spokesman, said he could neither confirm nor deny the reports of an airstrike. There was no confirmation that the Air Force had killed either of the al-Qaida targets. Air Force AC-130 gunships are heavily armed aircraft with elaborate sensors that can go after discreet targets — day or night. They are operated by the Special Operations Command and have been used heavily against the Taliban in Afghanistan. U.S. Navy vessels have been deployed off the coast of Somalia to make sure al-Qaida or allied jihadists don't escape the country, the State Department said last Wednesday. Somalia's effective central government fell in 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew a military dictator and then turned on each other. The government was formed two years ago with the help of the United Nations, but has been weakened by internal rifts. Soldiers loyal to Somalia's U.N.-backed government and Ethiopia's military late last month drove out a radical Islamic group that had been in control of the country for six months. The U.S. has believed for years that a group of al-Qaida operatives has been hiding in Somalia.
Lebanon opposition escalates anti-government campaign
Naharnet: Tuesday, 9 January, 2007 @ 5:38 PM The Hezbollah-led opposition took the first step in a wider campaign to topple the Western-backed government on Tuesday, taking part in a protest against economic reforms proposed by the cabinet. Hundreds of protesters, including opposition activists, waved Lebanese flags outside a Finance Ministry tax office to protest against an increase in value-added tax proposed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government. The protest was called by the labor union confederation and backed by Hezbollah and its allies, including Christian leader Michel Aoun and the Shi'ite Muslim Amal movement. Backed by Damascus, the opposition has declared the anti-Syrian cabinet illegitimate and demanded early parliamentary elections and a new electoral law. Opposition supporters have been camped out in central Beirut since December 1 to press their demands, erecting tents a short distance from the government's headquarters and effectively shutting down the city's commercial heart.
The standoff between the opposition and the government is part of Lebanon's worst political crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war. One opposition protester was killed in December and many Lebanese fear more violence. "The first thing we want is a clean government," said demonstrator Ralph Khoury, an 18-year-old Aoun supporter at Tuesday's protest. "We're definitely tired, but our determination is strong," he said, adding that he had slept for 12 nights under canvas in central Beirut at the start of the opposition campaign.
Hundreds of soldiers and police cordoned off the building housing the tax office. Organizers set up their own cordon between the protesters and the barriers in an apparent attempt to ensure there would be no friction with security forces. Security forces closed roads leading to the building, which sits at a usually busy intersection. "Siniora is responsible for making Lebanon poor," read one sign held aloft by protesters. The government says its reform plans, including raising VAT and privatization, will spur economic growth and help ease the burden of Lebanon's $41 billion public debt.
Siniora, who enjoys the support of the parliament majority and international support from France, the United States, Saudi Arabia and others, hopes a January 25 donors conference in Paris will yield foreign assistance vital to the reform plan. The opposition said on Monday it would organize daily protests outside government buildings and public facilities until Siniora gives in to its demands. Union chief Ghassan Ghosn urged the protesters to gather outside the Energy and Water Ministry on Wednesday. Lebanese army commander General Michel Suleiman said the military would not allow any disturbances. "The Lebanese army will by no means allow any storming of any public or private institution," Suleiman told As-Safir newspaper. The role of the army "is to protect the demonstrators... but we will not tolerate any disturbance," he said.
Geagea Criticizes 'Syrian Structured' Labor Union
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Monday criticized the General Federation of Labor Unions (GFLU) as "Syrian structured" and denounced calls by the opposition for serial protests against the government's socio-economic recovery plan.
Geagea, in a dialogue with reporters, said the GFLU was "Syrian structured … it is neither a union, nor general and it doesn't represent the labor force."
He added that the GFLU "tried in the past four or five days to call for sit-ins at some public institutions, but realized that no one (from the labor force) would respond to such a call."Later, Geagea added, the GFLU "decided to call for a sit-in in front of the finance ministry offices. And they cannot even organize a sit-in there. So the (opposition) parties decided to rally support for this sit-in to avoid disclosing the real size and capabilities of this GFLU."
Geagea, who also is a prominent member of the March 14 majority coalition, said the majority government of Premier Fouad Siniora, which adopted the socio-economic recovery and reform plan earlier in the week "is the first administration in 30 years to think of the Lebanese People's interests."
He called for parliamentary dialogue between the rival factions to contain the ongoing crisis in Lebanon.
March 14 alliance accuse Hezbollah of damaging the economy
The leadership of the March 14th alliance has accused Hezbollah of damaging the economy during the war with Israel and in doing so has created a hole in the pockets of the Lebanese people.
Walid Jumblatt, leader of the PSP said "the war has resulted in the destruction of 100,000 homes and the displacement of 1 million Lebanese". He added "The war has cost Lebanon in excess of 15 billion Dollars and drove away 2 million tourists that were booked to spend the summer in Lebanon".
Jumblatt accused Hezbollah of destroying Lebanon's economy twice . once during the war and the second time during the protests in downtown Beirut which have resulted in the closure of several business and in massive layoffs by the business community .These layoffs he said "hurt the poor people the most"Sources: Reuters, Naharnet, Ya LibnanBy Agencies
Union leaders have objected to tax increases and privatisation plans [AFP]
Naharnet:: Hundreds of people have gathered outside the Lebanese finance ministry in Beirut to protest against the government's economic reform programme. Opposition parties who are campaigning to topple the government of Fuad Siniora, the prime minister, have backed the sit-in which was organised by the main labour union. Protesters have been camped outside the prime minister's office in central Beirut since December 1.
Hundreds of soldiers and police cordoned off the building housing the VAT office of the finance ministry as protesters arrived in adjacent streets, stopping traffic in a key area of the capital. Organisers made their own cordon between demonstrators and the security forces in an apparent attempt to ensure there would be no friction with riot police. Last week, the government unveiled a series of economic reforms, including tax reforms and an increase in VAT rates, to be presented to an international donors' conference in Paris later this month. The government hopes they will bring financial help to an economy struggling after the July-August war with Israel.
The main labour union rejected the tax increases as well as privatisation efforts which it says would take away workers' rights.
Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Beirut, said the reform programme is "supposed to bring investors back to Lebanon, it's supposed to fight corruption ... but there are genuine concerns about the plan. People don't trust the government to fix the economy." On Monday, the opposition, which includes Shia Muslim Hezbollah as well as Christian and Druze parties, vowed to step up its campaign with daily marches outside ministries and public facilities. The opposition is calling for early parliamentary elections on the basis that Siniora's cabinet is unconstitutional and not fully representative of all of Lebanon's 18 sects after the resignation of all five of its Shia members. The five resigned, along with an allied Christian minister, after the government rejected their demands for a veto-wielding share of the cabinet. The government has said it will continue to confront the opposition and said the latest move was aimed at sabotaging the economy to the benefit of Syria.
Gemayel Urges Judiciary to Speed Up investigation with SSNP members
Ex-President Amin Gemayel on Tuesday urged the judiciary to speed up investigations with jailed members of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) whom he accused of involvement in attacks targeting anti-Syrian Lebanese leaders. Gemayel told a news conference the arrest of seven SSNP members and confiscation of large quantities of weapons and explosives from them last December was "not just a minor security felony."
Gemayel, who also is the supreme leader of the Phalange Party, said "SSNP members carried out an attempt to detonate an explosive charge targeting us in during a (Phalange) party activity in the Koura province. This is a very serious issue and falls in line with an SSNP trend, especially since the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel by an SSNP decision."He was referring to the assassination in 1982 of his brother, president-elect Bashir Gemayel, by a powerful blast that ripped through a Phalange Party office in Beirut's Ashrafiyeh district.
SSNP member Habib Shartouni was charged with the murder, but he escaped from the central prison of Roumiyeh when Syrian troops invaded the region northeast of Beirut in October 1990. He remains at large. Gemayel, whose son Pierre was gunned down by unidentified assailants last Nov. 21, called on "all the Lebanese, especially our Phalangist comrades, to be ready to face these threats that target the nation's security and stability as well as its existence and essence."The Phalange Party command, he said, was "following up political, judicial and security developments and would take the proper decision on time."In answering a question about the measures he wanted fellow Phalange Party members to adopt, Gemayel said: "a coup-like approach is being imposed on Lebanon which we should be aware of. We should be ready to confront the direct threat aimed at national institutions."
He was referring to the Hizbullah-led serial protests near public institutions with the declared objective of opposing Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's six-point socio-economic recovery and reform plan as well as toppling his majority government. Gemayel said the Judiciary system was "under enormous pressure to shelf this (SSNP) case. We will not allow this to happen." Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 15:36
Army Commander Vows to Protect Public Institutions
Lebanese army commander General Michel Suleiman said the military will protect public institutions from any "break in" attempt by Hizbullah-led protestors who threatened to launch serial demonstrations as of Tuesday to topple Premier Fouad Saniora's government. "The Lebanese army will by no means allow any break into any public or private institution," Suleiman said in an interview published by the daily As Safir on Tuesday. Suleiman said the role of the Lebanese army is "to protect the demonstrators … but we will not tolerate any disturbance."The opposition, spearheaded by Hizbullah, decided to launch on Tuesday serial protests targeting public offices throughout Lebanon after its 37-day sit-in in downtown Beirut failed to topple Premier Fouad Saniora's government. The decision was announced by ex-minister Talal Arslan after a meeting of opposition representatives Monday at the residence of Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun in suburban Rabiyeh, north of Beirut. The General Federation of Labor Unions (GFLU) staged a sit-in Tuesday near offices of the finance ministry to protest against a six-point socio-economic recovery and reform plan adopted by the Saniora government. Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 09:05
Rice Embarks on Middle East Tour Friday and Attends Paris III later
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to the Middle East Friday in an effort revive Arab-Israeli peace moves and would later attend a Lebanon donors' conference in Paris, the State Department announced Tuesday. Rice will visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait before stop-offs in Germany and Britain during the January 12-19 trip, department spokesman Sean McCormack said. He said Rice would also attend the Paris III Lebanon donors' conference in a second trip January 24 and 25.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 19:22
Olmert in China to Discuss Iran, Palestine and Lebanon
Naharnet: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday kicked off a three-day visit to Beijing, where he will hold talks with China's leaders focusing mainly on Iran's nuclear program, bilateral trade, the Palestinian issue and the situation in Lebanon. Olmert's first stop was a massive dairy farm built with Israeli technology situated on the outskirts of Beijing, where the 61-year-old premier pulled up his sleeves and milked a cow. A senior Israeli official said the project "symbolizes the type of cooperation the two countries want." Olmert then headed to the site of the Olympic Village being built for Beijing's hosting of the Games in 2008. After viewing the model of the village and the colossal central stadium, Olmert wrote in the site's guest book that "I am sure the Beijing games will be the most successful and a symbol of friendship and peace." Olmert was to hold talks later with Trade Minister Bo Xilai before meeting Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday and President Hu Jintao Thursday for talks focusing on Iran, as well as the Palestinian question, Syria and Lebanon.The visit, marking 15 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries, is Olmert's last leg in a recent tour of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to discuss Iran's nuclear bid, which Israel claims is aimed at acquiring an atomic bomb despite Tehran's repeated denials.
"Olmert is arriving in China for a round of very important talks during which he will press through the Iranian issue," a senior Israeli official told reporters on board the premier's plane. Unlike his talks in Britain, France, Russia and the United States, Olmert expects to encounter little enthusiasm in Beijing for Israel's call to slap heavy sanctions on Iran, one of China's major suppliers of oil and gas needed to feed its fast-growing economy.
The Jewish state, the Middle East's sole though undeclared nuclear power, considers Iran its arch foe amid repeated calls by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel to be wiped off the map. "But we must prepare for the next round of sanctions against Iran in the coming months," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Even though it did not oppose a Security Council resolution on December 23 slapping light sanctions on Iran, "China, too, has no interest in seeing a nuclear Iran," he said. "It is still very important to go to Beijing and spell out Israel's concerns over a nuclear Iran," the official said. Although China has generally kept a low profile in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a recent surge in efforts to restart the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians is also expected to be discussed.
Meanwhile, bilateral economic ties will play an important role during Olmert's talks with the Chinese leadership, as the two sides are expected to sign two new trade agreements on Wednesday. Trade between the two nations was worth three billion dollars at the end of last year, up 20 percent from 2005, according to figures provided by the Israeli embassy in Beijing. Chinese exports to Israel accounted for 2.25 billion dollars in trade last year, while high-tech products made up 46 percent of the Israeli flow of goods to China. Bilateral trade is expected to jump another 20 percent this year, according to the Israeli embassy. Israel has in the past also supplied arms technology to China. However, following two deals that drew U.S. opposition, Israel agreed to allow Washington to oversee the trade in this area. During the visit, Olmert's first as premier but his second in fewer than three years, he will also tour the Forbidden City and visit the Great Wall. On a personal note, Olmert, whose parents found sanctuary from Russian persecution in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin in the early 1900s, has branded the visit as a return to his roots. "I have a spiritual link with China," he told Israel's mass-selling Yediot Aharonot daily. "For me, China is not just another country -- it is an important part of my family history."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 19:13
Israel: Hizbullah has rebuilt its arsenal
Israel's military intelligence chief claimed Tuesday that Hizbullah is rearming itself following last summer's war with Israel and that a UN peacekeeping force is doing nothing to stop it. "Hizbullah has almost totally rebuilt its arsenal of rockets and arms," Major General Amos Yadlin was quoted by army radio as telling the parliamentary foreign affairs and defense committee. "The traffic of arms from Iran and Syria destined for Hiezbullah is continuing and the UN peacekeeping force is doing nothing to disarm Hizbullah," he added. Hizbullah, which Israel and the United States claim is armed by Damascus and Tehran, touched off the 34-day war when its guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid in July. The Jewish state responded with a deadly assault on Lebanon, while Hizbullah fired thousands of rockets at northern Israel. The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution in August that led to a ceasefire and the beefing up of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, giving it a mandate to assist the government in disarming militias.
But Yuval Steinitz, a member of the parliamentary committee, told army radio that "Hizbullah is rebuilding its forces and again threatening (the northern city of) Haifa and northern Israel."(AFP) Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 19:01
Syrian Opposition Figures Face Court This Month
Leading Syrian opposition figure and writer Michel Kilo is to go on trial on January 23 before a criminal court in the Syrian capital on a parcel of charges, including signing a petition urging the Damascus regime to recognize Lebanon's independence.
Defense lawyer Khalil Maatuk said Tuesday Kilo and communist activist Mahmud Issa both lost appeals in December for charges against them to be dropped for allegedly publishing false information and provoking dissent. Issa will go on trial the same day, along with two other activists, Khalil Hussein and Suleiman al-Shummar, who are on the run, Maatuk said. Kilo and Issa were arrested in May along with eight others for signing a petition calling for Syrian recognition of Lebanon's independence. They were accused of provoking religious and racial dissent, insulting official institutions, trying to "weaken national sentiment," damaging the image of the state and exposing Syria to the danger of aggression, the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria said. Issa is also charged with inciting a foreign country to attack Syria, it said. The trial of lawyer Anwar Bunni, who was arrested with Kilo and Issa, opened in October and is due to resume on January 21. The other seven arrested last May were released. "In 2006 the net closed in" on the opposition, Bunni told Agence France Presse by telephone from his prison near Damascus, referring to a crackdown after a brief period of political openness.
"There was a wave of arrests, travel bans, Internet sites blocked, and torture (in prisons) continued," said Bunni, who has spent almost the past eight months behind bars. He called for the release of political prisoners and the scrapping of emergency laws in force since 1963, and urged the UN human rights commission and Security Council to press for human rights in Syria to be respected in Syria. (AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 18:53
SSNP Denies Gemayel's Accusations
The Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) on Tuesday denied charges by ex-President Amin Gemayel that its jailed leaders have testified to attempting to detonate an explosive charge during a Phalange Party ceremony.
The SSNP, in a statement, said "there is no truth in what Gemayel has claimed regarding the charge of attempting to detonate an explosive charge at the Camilion restaurant in Kourah" province where the rival Phalange Party was organizing an activity in January 2005.
The statement added that Gemayel "made a mistake by alleging that jailed SSNP members have testified' to planting the explosive charge but failing to detonate it due to a technical problem. Such claims, the statement added, were based of "media fabrications."It also criticized Gemayel for saying the judiciary was under "enormous pressures to shelf the case." Such a claim, the SSNP statement added, was an attempt by the ex-President to "influence the judicial system." Seven SSNP members were arrested by a police raid in the northern Kourah province in December. Police also confiscated large quantities of weapons and ammunition from their hideouts. Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 18:41
Labor Unions Protest Government-Approved Economic Plan
Hundreds of protestors demonstrated near the offices of a finance ministry department in Beirut Tuesday against the majority government's economic reform plan that would be submitted to the Paris III donors' conference later this month. The demonstrators, shouting anti-government slogans, gathered outside the value-added tax (VAT) department of the finance ministry on Beirut's main Museum thoroughfare amidst strict security measures.They waved placards declaring opposition to additional taxes and accusing the government of seeking to "impoverish the people." Police officers and army units blocked streets leading to residential neighborhoods surrounding the protest site in an apparent effort to avoid a confrontation between the demonstrators and supporters of the March 14 parliamentary majority that rejected the strike which was called by the General Federation of Labor Unions.
Some protesters carried GFLU banners and Lebanese flags. Others brandished yellow flags of Hizbullah and the orange banners of Michael Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement. The Hizbullah-led opposition, which has been holding a sit-in protest outside the government's headquarters in downtown Beirut since December 1, has lent its support to the GFLU's call in an effort to escalate its campaign to topple Premier Fouad Saniora's majority government.
The Saniora government last week approved a six-point, socio-economic recovery and reform plan ahead of an international donors' conference to be held in Paris January 25. The plan aims at lifting war-ravaged Lebanon out of its 41-billion-dollar public debt.
GFLU President Ghassan Ghoson called for a sit-in to be carried out near the Energy Ministry at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 14:23
Gemayel Urges Judiciary to Speed Up investigation with SSNP members
Ex-President Amin Gemayel on Tuesday urged the judiciary to speed up investigations with jailed members of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) whom he accused of involvement in attacks targeting anti-Syrian Lebanese leaders.
Gemayel told a news conference the arrest of seven SSNP members and confiscation of large quantities of weapons and explosives from them last December was "not just a minor security felony." Gemayel, who also is the supreme leader of the Phalange Party, said "SSNP members carried out an attempt to detonate an explosive charge targeting us in during a (Phalange) party activity in the Koura province. This is a very serious issue and falls in line with an SSNP trend, especially since the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel by an SSNP decision."
He was referring to the assassination in 1982 of his brother, president-elect Bashir Gemayel, by a powerful blast that ripped through a Phalange Party office in Beirut's Ashrafiyeh district. SSNP member Habib Shartouni was charged with the murder, but he escaped from the central prison of Roumiyeh when Syrian troops invaded the region northeast of Beirut in October 1990. He remains at large. Gemayel, whose son Pierre was gunned down by unidentified assailants last Nov. 21, called on "all the Lebanese, especially our Phalangist comrades, to be ready to face these threats that target the nation's security and stability as well as its existence and essence."The Phalange Party command, he said, was "following up political, judicial and security developments and would take the proper decision on time."In answering a question about the measures he wanted fellow Phalange Party members to adopt, Gemayel said: "a coup-like approach is being imposed on Lebanon which we should be aware of. We should be ready to confront the direct threat aimed at national institutions."He was referring to the Hizbullah-led serial protests near public institutions with the declared objective of opposing Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's six-point socio-economic recovery and reform plan as well as toppling his majority government.
Gemayel said the Judiciary system was "under enormous pressure to shelf this (SSNP) case. We will not allow this to happen." Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 15:36
U.N. Team to Compare Explosives to those Used in Hariri Murder
Chief U.N. investigator Serge Brammertz had reportedly asked the international committee probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to examine the explosives and weapons confiscated last month from the Syrian Social National Party and compare them to those used in the killings of Hariri and others. The daily Al-Mustaqbal on Tuesday, citing judicial sources, said the international committee had already examined the munitions, weapons and timing equipment. Police confiscated 200 kilograms of T.N.T. paste, detonators and timing equipment from SSNP hideouts during a raid in Koura last month.Seven SSNP were arrested in the bust. The SSNP is a pro-Syrian group that supports the Hizbullah-led ongoing protest aimed at toppling the majority government of Premier Fouad Saniora. The group had said in a statement that all the explosives and related equipment confiscated by police were left over from its resistance activity against Israel in the 1980s. However, al-Mustaqbal had said investigators established that the confiscated T.N.T. paste and detonators were "brought into Lebanon in the year 2000." Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 11:56
New U.N. Chief Says He Will Search for Stability in Mideast, Lebanon
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said in his first speech to the Security Council that he will "strive to inject new momentum" into the search for stability in the Middle East, including Lebanon. He said on Monday that he will press the Quartet -- the U.N., the U.S., the European Union and Russia -- to resolve differences between the Israelis and Palestinians whose conflict has ramifications in many other countries. The search for peace and stability in the Middle East also "means supporting Lebanon in everything from its physical reconstruction to its quest -- as yet incomplete -- for a peaceful, democratic and fully independent future," Ban said. "In the wider reaches of the region, it means continuing our efforts to address the political and security challenges of Afghanistan and Iraq," he added. In his speech to the Security Council, Ban said that the U.N. faces an unprecedented demand for peacekeeping troops in addition to growing demands to help prevent conflicts and rebuild war-battered countries. He said the council and the world body "are going through one of the busiest periods in our history" with 18 peacekeeping missions and 100,000 personnel currently in the field "and climbing," and the U.N. engaged in some way in a total of 30 peace operations around the world. "I will make it my priority to strengthen the U.N.'s ability to play its role to the fullest extent in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding," Ban said.
A week after taking the reins of the world body, the new secretary-general addressed a council meeting on the threats to global peace and security that the world faces in 2007 -- singling out conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Kosovo and threats from terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty and human rights violations.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 09 Jan 07, 10:20