Although there was still some sporadic fighting in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Sunday (18 April) two events in the previous two days (16 & 17 April) have raised hopes for an early end to the war there.
SV & CU PAN Kamal Jumblatt (seated centre) with representatives of leftist parties (2 shots)
CU First Lieutenant Ahmed al-Khatib (bearded) arrives and enters separate room
CU PAN Yasser Arafat arrives SV Arafat and Jumblatt
SCU PAN Leftists and Palestinians seated
CU PAN Arafat, Jumblatt and al-Khatib seated together
SV EXTERIOR Car stopped and driver questioned by armed man on green line
SV Armed men on street corner
LV & CU Gunmen firing and running across racecourse area (3 shots)
SV Gunmen firing and running, injured man crawls into ditch
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Background: Although there was still some sporadic fighting in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Sunday (18 April) two events in the previous two days (16 & 17 April) have raised hopes for an early end to the war there.
They are the Damascus agreement, signed in Syria on Friday (16 April) by Syrian and Palestinian leaders to take a joint stand against anyone resuming fighting in Lebanon and the signing of a key constitutional amendment by Lebanese President Suleiman Franjieh the following day (17 April).
The signing of the decree by President Franjieh will allow parliament to elect a new head of state to replace him before his term is up in July.
On Saturday (17 April) leaders of all left wing and Palestinian movements met in Beirut to discuss the Damascus agreement. They included Socialist leader, Kamal Jumblatt, Palestinian Liberation Organisation leader, Yasser Arafat and leader of the Lebanese National Movement, Lieutenant Ahmed al-Khatib.
At the end of the meeting they issued a statement saying they welcomed and supported the agreement with one reservation. This was their refusal to withdraw from their current battle positions until a new president had been elected to replace President Franjieh and discussions had been held with the new man.
With the signing of the decree by President Franjieh later in the day Reuters quoted political observers in the city as being fairly optimistic for the continuance of the two week old cease-fire and further steps towards a peace settlement.
But despite the optimism hundreds more have died in fighting in an around Beirut in the last week. The heaviest casualties were reported along the lines separating Moslem and Christian sectors of the city where heavy fighting broke out on Thursday and Friday (15 & 16 April) in defiance of the cease-fire.
SYNOPSIS: Lebanese Socialist leader, Kamal Jumblatt, was among the Lebanese leftist leaders who met in Beirut on Saturday to discuss the Damascus agreement signed in Syria the previous day.
A key figure in the Lebanese National Movement, Lieutenant Ahmed al-Khatib.
And one of the co-signers of the agreement, Palestinian Liberation Organisation leader, Yasser Arafat.
The agreement was signed by Palestinian and Syrian leaders and set down a plan to take a joint stand against anyone resuming fighting in Lebanon. After the Beirut meeting a statement agreeing in principle with the agreement was issued with one reservation. The leftists said they would refuse to give up their current battle positions until a new president was elected.
But despite renewed hopes for a peace settlement hundreds more have died in the past week.
Some of the worst fighting on Friday raged along the battle lines separating Moslem and Christian sectors of Beirut.
The fighting was in defiance of the two week cease-fire.
Radio reports from both sides said attempts to check shooting around the national museum, located at a road junction which had previously been the sole safe crossing point between the sectors, had been futile and heavy shelling was reported into the night.