May 11/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15,9-11. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete

Free Opinions
Keep your eye on the Cheney trip to Saudi Arabia.By David Ignatius. May 11/07
America moves forward to the past.By Michael Young. May 11/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 11/07
Rice: Syria Should Allow Creation of International Tribunal-Naharnet
Ban, Assad 'Follow Up on Issues' in Phone Conversation
Brammertz' Report 'Concluded' After Koleilat Grilling-Naharnet
Sarkozy Underlines to Hariri France's Support for Tribunal-Naharnet
Assad Rules out Cooperation with Court if Sovereignty Threatened-Naharnet
Hizbullah attacks Ban-Naharnet
Rival Camps to Consider New Strategies Vis a-Vis Lebanon Crisis-Naharnet
Trial of German Trains Alleged Bombers Adjourns-Naharnet
Bush extends unilateral sanctions against Syria.RIA Novosti
Ban, Assad Discuss Alleged Syria-Lebanon Arms Smuggling.Naharnet

Olmert criticizes army in Lebanon war testimony-Washington Post
Israeli foreign ministry recommends Syria talks.Middle East Online
What should an Arab Commission inquiry into the Lebanon war say ?Ya Libnan
Ban coming back to Lebanon to untangle impasse on tribunal.Ya Libnan

Latest News Reports From The Daily Star for May 11/07
Maronite Bishops paint picture of ideal president
Berri vows presidential elections will go ahead as scheduled.
French Senate official praises 'improvement' of Lebanese MPs
Qoleilat 'sheds light on who killed Hariri'
UNESCO blames water crises on bad management
Hariri's case against Wahhab goes to Press Court
UNIFIL commander honors Portuguese troops
New mufti of Sidon to take post today
Fatah blames Ain al-Hilweh killings on foreign spies
Private utilities see way to meet electricity needs
Blast and bomb scare rattle Beirutis
Ksara hosts 27th branch of free restaurant
Travelling bookseller offers cheap alternative to Internet
Exhibition celebrates Armenian photo-journalist's life's work

Sarkozy Underlines to Hariri France's Support for Tribunal
French President Jacques Chirac and his elected successor Nicolas Sarkozy held talks jointly Thursday with Saad Hariri, son of the assassinated Lebanese ex-premier Rafik Hariri. Hariri, head of Lebanon's anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, said the new president would pursue Chirac's policy on Lebanon and press for the creation of an international tribunal to try those suspected of murdering his father. "President-elect Sarkozy asserted the need to create an international tribunal," Hariri told journalists after the 45-minute meeting. "He asserted the need to pursue relations between Lebanon and France... as they were in the past under President Chirac," he said. Syria, which has been implicated in a U.N. probe over the Hariri assassination despite its repeated denials, is opposed to plans for the court which have been endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. Chirac was a close friend of Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in February 2005.
The president and his wife are to move into a Paris apartment belonging to the Hariri family when he leaves the Elysee on Wednesday.
An Elysee spokesman said that Chirac wanted Sarkozy to take part in the meeting with Hariri because of the importance that France accords to its ties with Lebanon. Syrian President Bashar Assad congratulated Sarkozy Monday on his victory in the French presidential elections and said he hoped the incoming head of state would oversee an improvement in bilateral relations. France froze all high-level contacts with Syria following Hariri's assassination and has 1,650 troops serving in the U.N. force in south Lebanon.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 10 May 07, 18:13

Hizbullah Attacks Ban
Hizbullah launched Thursday a vehement attack on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon claiming his report on implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 was "biased."The group, in a statement, said Ban's report on implementation of the Sept. 2004 resolution was "incomplete and biased and not in line with his perceived role and the United Nations' mission throughout the world."Hizbullah said Ban's report on implementation of resolution 1559, which calls for disarming Hizbullah and Palestinian fighters operating in Lebanon, "lacked reference to the daily violations of Lebanon's sovereignty by Israel."
It also criticized Ban's concern about the break out of civil war in Lebanon, charging the United States of being "the number one maker of wars in the world."
Ban's report referred to the smuggling of weapons from Syria to re-arm Hizbullah in Lebanon. Beirut, 10 May 07, 19:48

Brammertz' Report 'Concluded' After Koleilat Grilling
A report by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz, head of the U.N. probe into the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, on Thursday was said to have been "concluded." The daily Asharq Alawsat, citing well-informed Lebanese sources, said outcome of Brammertz' report and disclosure of those involved in the 2005 murder of Hariri and related crimes are "subject to" creation of the U.N.-backed international tribunal. The sources said the U.N. commission investigating Hariri's killing has "crowned" its nearly two-year probe with the grilling of fugitive Rana Koleilat, former Al Madina Bank executive, who is jailed in Brazil for allegedly trying to bribe police officers who located her for Interpol. Koleilat, who is also under investigation for a multimillion-dollar fraud at Al Madina, was arrested in Sao Paulo on March 12, 2006. Asharq Alawsat said the sources quoted diplomats at the United Nations as saying that Koleilat's testimony had "shed light on important issues that have been awaiting clearance" from the U.N. commission. The sources said Koleilat was interrogated as a witness, thus, her testimony ought to be supported with tangible evidence and documents. Beirut, 10 May 07, 10:06

Rice: Syria Should Allow Creation of International Tribunal
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday Syria "should allow" the creation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 murder of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. Syria should also close its Iraq border to foreign fighters and crack down on Palestinian extremists if it wants to thaw frosty ties with Washington, Rice added. Addressing members of Congress after she held an unprecedented meeting with her Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem last week, Rice said any improvement to U.S.-Syria relations hinged on progress on those fronts. "It was not a conversation about U.S.-Syria relations but about what Syria needs to do to stem the tide of foreign fighters" among other issues, she told a Senate foreign relations hearing.
"Syria continues to be a major funder of terrorism, a major harbourer of those elements of the Palestinian political elite for instance who are opposed to a two-state solution, who are the ones who continue to perpetrate violence in the Palestinian territories and in Israel," Rice added.
The secretary of state said that she told Muallem during their talks last Thursday, held on the sidelines of a conference on Iraq in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, "that we should talk about Iraq." "But U.S.-Syria relations would depend on a great deal more," she added.
Washington accuses Damascus of letting anti-U.S. insurgents cross from Syria to Iraq, supporting terrorist groups in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories.
Syria, meanwhile, ruled out any cooperation with an international court to try suspects in the Hariri murder if it threatens its sovereignty. Syria, which has been implicated in a U.N. probe over the Hariri assassination despite its repeated denials, is opposed to plans for the court which have been endorsed by the U.N. Security Council."Syria needs to allow that tribunal to go forward because people need an answer to what happened to former prime minister Hariri," Rice said.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 10 May 07, 19:00

Trial of German Trains Alleged Bombers Adjourns
A Beirut court on Thursday adjourned until May 22 the trial of six Lebanese accused of plotting to bomb trains in Germany last July.
The court said the move, the third adjournment since the trial opened on April 11, was to give the defense more time to prepare its case.
The defense has claimed that the Beirut criminal court was not entitled to try four suspects in Lebanese custody, insisting they should be tried in northern Lebanon where they live and where they were arrested on September 4. The four men in custody are suspected mastermind Jihad Hamad, 22, as well as Khaled al-Hajj Dib, 19, Ayman Hawwa, 22, and Khalil Bubu, 23. Bubu is also facing another trial for links to a bomb attack on a Lebanese army barracks in Beirut last year.
At the opening of the trial, the court issued arrest warrants for Saddam al-Hajj Dib, who remains at large, and his brother Yusef Mohammed al-Hajj Dib, who is in custody in Germany. Both are being tried in absentia. All six are being charged with "an attempt to carry out mass killing in two passenger trains in Germany on July 31 by using incendiary material confiscated by German authorities," a judicial source said.
If found guilty, the four in custody could be jailed for a maximum of 15 years while those in absentia could be sentenced to longer prison terms.
Hamad has confessed under judicial interrogation to having placed a suitcase containing explosives on a train in Germany last July to avenge the publication in Denmark of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, Lebanese judicial sources said. German federal police said the cartoons published in Western and some Arab newspapers had been the "detonator" which pushed the gang to hatch the plot, which failed when bombs concealed on two regional trains did not explode because of faulty detonators. German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said last month that bomb-making instructions had been found on a deleted hard disk of a laptop computer which Hamad had taken with him from Germany to Lebanon.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 10 May 07, 17:46

Assad Rules out Cooperation with Court if Sovereignty Threatened
Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday ruled out cooperation with the international tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins if it threatened Syria's sovereignty and independence. "We consider that the international tribunal concerns only Lebanon and the United Nations and that we are not directly concerned," Assad said in a speech to the newly elected parliament. "Any cooperation requested from Syria which could compromise our national sovereignty is rejected.""Syria is cooperating with the commission (investigating Hariri's murder) but not with the tribunal. There is a difference between cooperation and abandoning our independence," Assad told parliament. "We have cooperated with the international commission of inquiry and we reiterate our readiness to cooperate with it as long as it respects our laws and our sovereignty," he added.
Assad also said that the current Israeli government was weak and is not prepared for a just peace with the Arabs. "Israel is not ready on the official and popular level for a just and comprehensive peace, which requires strong leadership that can take decisive decisions, in addition to a mature public opinion that can push its government in that direction," he said. "Both are not available now in Israel, particularly in the presence of a weak government which is unable to take a strategic decision (for peace), the Syrian leader said. But, he cautioned, "we have to be careful" because "in the history of Israel, weak governments are able to wage war."(AFP-AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 10 May 07, 12:51

Rival Camps to Consider New Strategies Vis a-Vis Lebanon Crisis

Lebanon's rival political camps on Thursday were geared up to look for new strategies in a bid to get the country out of its ongoing political impasse.
Lebanese media reported that the opposition and the pro-government March 14 Forces are to hold separate meetings to adopt a fresh approach prior to the upcoming presidential elections. The daily An Nahar said the ruling March 14 coalition will hold a meeting as soon as MP Saad Hariri is back in Beirut from a Paris trip where he is to pay tribute to outgoing French President Jacques Chirac.
An Nahar said March 14 leaders were engaged with preparations for a new "political agenda" for the next phase, particularly in light of the U.N.'s likely approval of the international tribunal and the imminent presidential elections.
It said the ruling team would discuss "in detail" drafts that have already been prepared for the new agenda, which An Nahar said was of "great importance."
In turn, the daily Al Anwar said that a meeting planned for Thursday between Hizbullah and Amal MPs at Parliament building was likely to press ahead with "popular actions" against Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nabih Berri denied reports that six resigned Opposition cabinet ministers were considering a return to the government as "caretakers." Beirut, 10 May 07, 07:08

Ban, Assad 'Follow Up on Issues' in Phone Conversation
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and Syrian President Bashar Assad have discussed in a telephone conversation issues that likely involved reports of arms smuggling from Syria to Lebanon. The reports have raised serious concern in the U.N. Security Council and Ban took up the issue with Assad during a visit to Damascus last month. The official SANA news agency said that Wednesday's telephone discussions were "in the framework of communication between Syria and the international organization, to follow-up on issues." No details were provided. During his Syria visit, Ban urged Damascus to work with Lebanon to prevent cross-border arms smuggling and asked Assad to use his influence with Lebanese allies to resolve the ongoing political crisis.
Weapons transfers to Hizbullah are banned under U.N. Resolution 1701 which ended last summer's war between Israel and the Shiite group.
Ban has also sought Assad's help in getting the Lebanese to agree on an international tribunal in the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri.
An Nahar daily said Thursday that Ban will meet next week with members of the Security Council to discuss what steps the Council would take on the tribunal.
It said the Council could act to break the deadlock on the court before the end of May after Ban was convinced that the tribunal wouldn't be formed locally.
Speaker Nabih Berri is refusing to call for a parliament session to set up the court. Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad said that the 15-member council could assist the Lebanese by establishing the tribunal under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 10 May 07, 10:06