German Chancellor Arrives in Lebanon for Middle East Talks
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder arrived in Beirut Sunday where he will discuss the situation in the Middle East on the second stage of his regional tour.
Schroeder arrived from Cairo on his five-day tour of six Middle Eastern countries and was met at the airport by Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
He is the first German chancellor to go to Lebanon. He went straight to the prime minister's office in downtown Beirut for talks with Hariri.
An official source said the German delegation was joined in the talks by Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammud, Finance Minister Fouad Siniora, Economy and Trade Minister Bassel Fleihan and Culture Minister Ghassan Salameh.
Schroeder is the first major guest since Hariri returned to power last week.
The German chancellor was due to meet later with President Emile Lahoud.
Schroeder was slated to attend a dinner in his honor hosted by Hariri late Sunday, and a working breakfast Monday with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri before flying on to Amman.
The Lebanese-German talks will focus on regional issues -- the situation in the Middle East and southern Lebanon -- as well as political and economic bilateral relations, according to the German embassy.
A Lebanese government source told AFP that Beirut would "explain to its guest that the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon (May 24) is not complete, as the Farms of Shabaa are still under Israeli occupation, that the Lebanese kidnapped by Israel should be freed and that the Palestinian refugees must be able to return to their country."
After Lebanon and Jordan, Schroeder heads for Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories – BEIRUT (AFP)
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