Syrian sponsored peace negotiations were continuing in the Lebanon on Thursday (5 February) as many people began repairing the damage to their homes and properties caused during the bloody fighting between left and right wing Christian and Moslem factions.
GV EXTERIOR Patriarch's residence at Bkerki
SV & CU Patriarch Khoreish talking to Khaddam (2 shots)
SV & CU Troops standing on tank (2 shots)
CU Lieutenant Khatib being interviewed
GV Damaged service station (2 shots)
SV Emile Rizk looking at damaged petrol station (3 shots)
REPORTER: "Can you tell me exactly why you left the army in the first place?"
KHATIB: "I left the army because it proved that the army is not for the whole Lebanese people."
REPORTER: "If the army asked you to come back to them what conditions would you give before you went back?"
KHATIB: "We have many requests .. we ask for the reformation. We ask for justice and agility."
REPORTER: "Would the army give you those things if you went back?"
ED'S NOTE: This film is serviced with part of an interview with the leader of the newly formed "Lebanese Arab Army", Lieutenant Al-Khatib. A transcript follows.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Syrian sponsored peace negotiations were continuing in the Lebanon on Thursday (5 February) as many people began repairing the damage to their homes and properties caused during the bloody fighting between left and right wing Christian and Moslem factions.
But while the peace meetings and the first signs of life returning to normal were happening, at least one group was preparing for future fighting.
The "Lebanese Arab Army" was founded by Lieutenant Ahmed Al-Khatib, a former officer of the regular Lebanese Army.
Reports from Lebanese military authorities indicate that at least 600 men deserted the regular army in favour of the new breakaway group.
Lieutenant Al-Khatib, a Moslem, has previously accused the regular army command of bias towards the right wing Christians .. and has stated that his army "will be for the whole Lebanese people".
Meanwhile, in Bkerki .. north of Beirut .. Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam continued his peace moves on Thursday when he visited Maronite Christian Patriarch Antonios Khoreish.
He was accompanied by Major-General Naji Jamail, Syrian Deputy Defence Minister and Air Forece Commander, and Major-General Himat Shehabi, Syria's Army Chief of Staff.
After the meeting, Mr. Khaddam issued a brief statement to waiting newsmen which read: "Everything is fine, we will return soon."
And the return of the middle class and wealthy Lebanese who left the country during the bitter violence is also causing hope for the future.
Officials at Beirut Airport claim some 6,000 people have returned since the now two week ceasefire took hold.
In Damour, millionaire Christian Maronite Emile Rizk has returned to the southern town and announced major re-building plans.
Rizk, who lost five buildings during the fighting, is one of the key figures in the running of the 30,000 strong town and the news of his plans has given the locals a great lift.
The final step in the current, delicate peace moves comes on Saturday (7 February) when Lebanese President Suleiman Franjieh travels to Damascus to set the seal on a Syrian engineered peace formula.
The terms of the peace agreement have not been disclosed, but observers believe it is the only compromise solution acceptable to all major parties in the conflict.
SYNOPSIS: The residence of Antonios Khoreish .. Patriarch of the Lebanese Christian Maronite Church .. was the scene of yet another peace meeting on Thursday. Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam met with the Patriarch to finalise details of a Syrian engineered peace formula for the Lebanon. After Thursday's meeting, Mr. Khaddam issued only a brief statement which read: "Everything is fine, we will return soon".
While the peace meeting continues, at least one group is preparing for further bloody fighting. These men are deserters from the Lebanese regular army. They've joined the newly formed "Lebanese Arab Army" founded by Lieutenant Ahmed Al-Khatib.
Despite the tension that still remains in the strife torn country, many middle class and wealthy Lebanese are returning to the country and inspecting the damage to their homes. One is millionaire Christian Maronite Emile Rizk. The 75-year-old self made tycoon is the cornerstone of the 30,000 strong Christian town of Damour just south of Beirut. He returned to Damour on Thursday to inspect damage to his properties. Although he was uninsured for war damage. Mr. Rizk says he will rebuild and start again in Damour... a statement that has created great hope for the future of the town.