March 13/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 4,24-30. And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources For March 13/07
Solana to reiterate to Syria EU position on Lebanon -- France - Kuwait News Agency
Iran sponsoring Hizbullah-Style Hamas
Greece-Turkey Dispute Reflects on UNIFIL's Navy
EU says it will help resolve Lebanon crisis-PRESS TV
Solana Arrives in Beirut Ahead of Historic Syria Visit-Naharnet
Bomb in Potato Chips Bag Discovered-Naharnet

Berri, Hariri Draw Roadmap for Lebanon Settlement-Naharnet
March 14 in Lebanon-Human Events
Hard Times in Southern Lebanon-Strategy Page
Solana to seek Syria help on Lebanon deal-Gulf Times
'Kidnap' mercenaries in Lebanon-Melbourne Herald Sun
Hezbollah accuses US of hampering peace in Lebanon-PRESS TV -
Patriarch and Bishops Offer Help to End Lebanon's Political Crises-AINA

Berri, Hariri Drawing Roadmap for Lebanon Settlement
Talks between Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri of the opposition and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri have led to drawing a roadmap for a settlement to the ongoing political crisis. "(The talks) went beyond headlines, and we will start in the third session … drawing a roadmap for a balanced and simultaneous solution" on the issues of the international tribunal and the formation of a new government, Berri told As Safir in remarks published Monday. Berri also said he was longing to reach a settlement to the nearly four-month-old standoff before an Arab summit scheduled in Saudi Arabia March 28-29. He reiterated that both camps "need guarantees from Saudi Arabia after reaching a Lebanese accord."
"The wish to safeguard Lebanon is the key motivation for me and for Saad Hariri," Berri told Kuwait's Al Rai newspaper on Sunday.
He said that hardest part of reaching a settlement was "securing guarantees" from the Hizbullah-led opposition and the pro-government March 14 coalition. "We want guarantees from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria," Berri told Al Rai. "It appears that we want guarantees from the whole world."
Berri, a close Hizbullah ally, and Hariri, in his capacity as representative of the pro-government camp, have met twice last week in a bid a find a way out of the crisis that has crippled Lebanon. The talks recessed over the weekend due to Hariri's visit to Abu Dhabi for meetings with officials of the United Arab Emirates on regional developments and bilateral relations. Future television said Hariri returned to Beirut on Monday. No date has been set for the third round of talks. But As Safir said Hariri and Berri are expected to meet again within the coming few hours.
The two rival leaders have agreed on "swift paced" consultations to find an exit out of Lebanon's crisis despite failing to agree on the formation of a new government. A joint statement issued after the second round of consultations said the two men agreed on maintaining their "serious talks with a swift pace."
It said a "positive atmosphere" prevailed over the second session of the talks which was carried out late Friday. Beirut, 12 Mar 07, 09:32

Bomb in Potato Chips Bag Discovered
Lebanese internal security forces said in a communiqué published by local newspapers on Monday that they have thwarted an explosion attempt in the southern port city of Sidon. The police communiqué said the assailant carrying the bomb in a potato chips bag was arrested at 8 p.m. Sunday.
It said the 200-gram TNT bomb was set to explode at 9:30 pm the same day. The explosive was defused by an ISF expert, the statement added.
Agence France Presse quoted police sources as saying the suspect was a Palestinian and identified him as Walid Moustafa. It said Moustafa was arrested shortly after he left the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon. Meanwhile, the National News Agency said that Lebanese army troops found a mortar shell fastened to a rocket propelled grenade outside Ansariya School in Nabatiyeh further south. It said the army's engineering unit safely dismantled the grenades. Lebanese authorities have seized large amounts of weapons and explosives in recent weeks. Beirut, 12 Mar 07, 11:10

Solana Arrives in Beirut Ahead of Historic Syria Visit
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana arrived in Beirut on Monday as part of a three-day trip to the region that will also take him to Saudi Arabia and Syria. Solana told reporters at Rafik Hariri international airport that his regional tour was "very, very important," noting that it was taking place ahead of the Arab summit in Saudi Arabia later this month. The European Union hopes the visit will help ease the political crisis in Lebanon and encourage the reconciliation of rival Palestinian factions. Solana first went into a meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain el Tineh, and is due to have lunch with Premier Fouad Saniora and then hold a press conference.
After a stopover in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, he will arrive in Damascus the day after for talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Official EU talks with Syria have been frozen since ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination in a suicide truck bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 2005.
"I have a (EU) mandate for this trip, including in Syria, to tell them we want them to work with us and with the international community, particularly on the Lebanon issue," Solana said after a European summit in Brussels on Friday. An Nahar daily quoted Lebanese official sources as saying Solana will press Syria on the issue of the Special International Tribunal for Lebanon that will try Hariri's suspected assassins. Solana's trip comes as the EU wants to benefit from "new elements," which it believes could open up new diplomatic avenues.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 12 Mar 07, 08:14

Solana to reiterate to Syria EU position on Lebanon -- France
PARIS, March 12 (KUNA) -- European Union High Representative Javier Solana will reiterate to Syrian authorities the position of the EU on the question of Lebanons sovereignty and the intention to set up an international tribunal to investigate political assassinations in that country, French officials said Monday. Solana, who is responsible for representing the 27-nations foreign and security policy, is undertaking a Mideast tour that will include a visit to Damascus and French officials here stressed Solanas trip was decided by consensus among all the EU countries.
"As for Syria, this visit will be an opportunity for Solana to recall the determination of the Europeans to reinforce the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Lebanon," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said.
France and the United States were driving forces behind a UN Security Council resolution that forced Syria to withdraw from Lebanon two years ago, but Damascus has been accused of continuing to interfere in Lebanese domestic affairs after the pullout, a charge denied by Syria.
Solana "will also stress the necessity to respect all the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, including those which foresee the setting up of an international-style tribunal," Mattei indicated. The tribunal, similar to the Hague Tribunal in structure, would examine the killing of Lebanese officials and journalists, most prominent among them Rafiq Al-Hariri, assassinated on February 14 2005.
Al-Hariri was a long-time friend of President Jacques Chirac of France, who was deeply upset by the death of the Lebanese official and who vowed to pursue those guilty of his murder. Relations between France and Syria, which were already strained because of the French pressure for Damascus to withdraw from Lebanon, sharply deteriorated after Al-Hariris death and have not recovered since Syria denies any involvement in the spate of killings in Lebanon over a two-year period, when several politicians and journalists were victims of assassinations. (end) jk.

Iran sponsoring Hizbullah-Style Hamas
Israel's Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Monday accused Iran of training militants from radical Palestinian group Hamas, like it trained Hizbullah fighters. "Iran started to train terrorists from Hamas from the Gaza Strip who after disengagement (Israel's 2005 pullout) had the opportunity to cross from Gaza into Egypt," he told a Jerusalem think-tank. "From Egypt they come to Tehran to be trained over there, and to go back to the Gaza Strip enhanced with Iranian training," he added. Dichter said coordination between Hamas and Iran increased since 2001.
Dichter, who formerly headed Israel's homeland intelligence agency Shin Beth, charged that the governing Hamas faction was building itself up in Gaza on the same basis that Shiite militia Hizbullah built itself up in Lebanon. "Iran... is the biggest state of terror that exists in this world," Dichter said.
But although Dichter criticized UN Security Council sanctions imposed on Iran as a "bit poor", he denied Israel was able to counter Iran other than through cutting its connections to proxies such as Hizbullah and Hamas. "The State of Israel cannot (alone) … prevent Iran from developing its nuclear capabilities," he said. Believed to be the region's sole, though undeclared, nuclear power, Israel believes Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Israel considers Iran its chief enemy, alarmed by repeated calls by hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe the Jewish state off the map.(AFP) eirut, 12 Mar 07, 20:50

Greece-Turkey Dispute Reflects on UNIFIL's Navy
Greece on Monday challenged the prospect of Turkey commanding the U.N. naval force that patrols Lebanon's coastline when the current German leadership expires in August. "Given that the vessels are based in Limassol (Cyprus), it is clear that the leadership must be objective on these matters," Greek Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis told reporters after talks in Athens with his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung.
Meimarakis was commenting on Greek media reports that Turkey seeks to assume command of the U.N. mission's fleet, which is tasked with intercepting arms shipments along Lebanon's coast following Israel's war with the Shiite movement Hizbullah. Turkey refuses to recognize Cyprus, and is the only country to endorse the Turkish Cypriot state it created after invading northern Cyprus in 1974 after a Greek-Cypriot coup. Meimarakis on Monday said Greece supports the principle of multinational control over the U.N. naval force after Germany's term expires. Jung said that Germany's successor would be decided through dialogue within the United Nations.(AFP) Beirut, 12 Mar 07, 20:29

Patriarch, Bishops Offer Help to End Lebanon's Political Crises
Posted GMT 3-12-2007
Beirut (AsiaNews) -- The Lebanese situation is in ferment: today the EU minister for Foreign Affairs, Javier Solana arrives -- he will travel on to Riyadh and Damascus -- and the extraordinary Assembly of Lebanon's Patriarchs and Catholic bishops opens, while Parliament President Nabih Berri and leader of the opposition Saad Hariri express their optimism, ahead of announcing a third bilateral meeting.
On the eve of the meeting between the patriarchs and Catholic bishops, called by Assembly president Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, Sfeir himself launched a new appeal to all political leaders. "As long as these leaders fail to seek what's in the best interest of the citizens -- he said -- without exceptions, our problems will remain unresolved, and our hopes that this country can emerge from the current political crises will remain distant". "A solution to the problem exists -- he added -- but only if all debate is based on what is in the nation's best interest. That presupposes that all personal objectives, private interests and sectarian aims are put aside". Sources closet o the Maronite Patriarch revealed to AsiaNews the Patriarchs serious concerns should the Saudi initiative, which has the backing of Iran and foresees the foundation of a new political circle, fail. It should represent a catalyst between the Christian political groups; patriarchal vicar msgr Guy-Paul Noujeim will take part, as a guide to its members devoid of any political association. The Maronite bishop confirmed this to AsiaNews, the same bishop the late John Paul II appointed as special secretary to the Assembly of the Synod of bishops on Lebanon in 1994. More than 50 members will take part in the extraordinary Assembly of Lebanon's Patriarchs and Catholic bishops. Among them the patriarchs of the four Catholic Churches, all Catholic bishops, the superior general s of all 8 male religious orders, of the Latin rite orders and of the female orders. Msgr Bechara Rahi, Maronite bishop of Jbeil, defined the convocation of the Assembly as "the Lebanese Catholic Churches expression of solidarity with citizens" and "a fresh initiative to find common round between the different groups".
On the international stage, Solana's three day visit to the Middle East will be centred on finding a solution to the Lebanese crises and encouraging reconciliation between the Palestinian factions. Following his stay in Beirut -- where he is due to meet with Berri and Premier Fouad Siniora -- Solana will travel on to Riyadh and Damascus. This last stop is an official sign renewed relations between the EU and Syria, severed on February 14 2005, following the murder of the ex prime minister Rafic Hariri. According to official Lebanese sources quoted in today's edition of An Nahar, Solana hopes to pressure Syria into accepting the terms of an International Tribunal to try those responsible for the Harir's assassination. Opposed by the Syrian regime- they fear accusations of involvement -- the international tribunal is the principal cause of the current Lebanese political crises. Recently it was reported that in attempts to reassure Syria, Saudi Arabia guaranteed that the tribunal will not seek to attest political responsibility for the Hariri assassination or for the other political murders which have taken place in Lebanon.
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