Lebanese President Names New Prime Minister
LEBANON'S President Elias Hrawi appointed Rashid al-Solh as Lebanon's new prime minister Wednesday to form a Syrian-backed government to salvage the economy and end popular unrest.
President Hrawi announced that he had given the job to Mr. Solh, who was prime minister in 1975 at the start of Lebanon's 15-year civil war, in a written statement after talks at the presidential palace.
Solh succeeds Omar Karami, who resigned a week ago amid riots by workers protesting the Lebanese pound's collapse and inflation of more than 50 percent in the last two months.
Solh said that he would work to strengthen relations with Syria "to save our two nations" and that it is the duty of all Lebanese officials to work to "liberate" south Lebanon from Israel.
Many Lebanese said they were wary of the appointment as they doubted a new Cabinet could end the decline of the pound or attract foreign aid and investment to revive the economy.
Western diplomats say the government needs to end corruption in the civil service, show some independence from Damascus, and restore popular confidence in Lebanon's future. Solh's government will also be charged with organizing the first parliamentary elections in 20 years. Kuwait to step up security
Kuwait is to step up internal security measures to curb a surge in violence described by the crown prince as an evil plan to destabilize the emirate.
Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdulla al-Sabah, who is also Kuwait's prime minister, was quoted Wednesday as saying the violence "has evil aims to destabilize the security of the country, foment dissension and fragment our national unity."
Local newspapers said he was speaking during an emergency meeting Tuesday night with the interior minister and security officials to discuss ways of controlling the violence.
The crown prince urged the security forces to double their efforts to protect the citizens of Kuwait and "not to be lenient in applying the law."
The government last week repeated calls on Kuwaitis to hand over weapons confiscated from Iraqi troops who were routed early last year after occupying Kuwait for seven months.
The Interior Ministry renewed the call after a blast near the home of the dean of Kuwait University medical faculty and a machinegun attack on actor Hussein Abdel Rida.
Nobody was hurt in the attacks and no group has claimed responsibility. The incidents sparked fears of further violence in the campaign to the country's first general elections in six years scheduled for October. Palestinians press right of return
Palestinians attending an international conference on Middle East refugees Wednesday blamed Israel for their plight and asserted they had an inherent, natural right to return to their homes in what is now the Jewish state.
Jordan supported the Palestinian position.
Chief Jordanian delegate Jawad Anani said he called for a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian refugee question that would included the right of return.
But chief United States delegate Dan Kurzer said the conference should concentrate on isolating small concrete steps that could be taken to help refugees, rather than searching for a political solution to their plight. He said this would have to be forged in direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
Israel is boycotting the three-day meeting because Palestinian "exiles" from outside the occupied territories were invited to take part and because it refuses to accept the concept of Palestinian repatriation.
The issue ignited a major storm between Israel and the United States Tuesday when Washington formally confirmed it still backed the 43-year-old United Nations resolution setting out the Palestinian right of return.