Lebanon's new cabinet of National Unity met for the first time on May 10.
1. GVs Nabih Berri arriving at presidential palace. (2 SHOTS) 0.11
2. SV Walid Jumblatt outside building. 0.22
3. SVs Karami and delegates entering building. 0.35
4. SVs Pierre Gemayel entering building. (2 SHOTS) 0.45
5. SVs & GVs INTERIORS Cabinet in session with President Amin Gemayel. (8 SHOTS) 1.16
6. SVs President Gemayel leads cabinet members down steps. (2 SHOTS) 1.39
7. SV & GV Cabinet pose for photo session. 1.50
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: BIKFAYA, LEBANON
Lebanon's new cabinet of National Unity met for the first time on May 10. Nine of the ten ministers, chosen by Prime Minister Rashid Karami from long-feuding Moslem and Christian factions, gathered under strict security at a presidential palace north of Beirut. President Amin Gemayel opened a three-hour session, planned for the previous day but postponed because Moslem leaders Walid Jumblatt and Nabih Berri refused to accept the initial venue for the meeting. The location, initially announced as Baabda lies in an area controlled by mainly Christian units of Lebanese army loyalists. The venue finally chosen was President Gemayel's summer residence in the Christian mountain village of Bikfaya, 16 kilometres (10 miles) northeast of Beirut. The only absentee was Interior Minister Abdullah Rassi, a Greek Orthodox who was due to represent former president Suleiman Franjieh. Franjieh however, wants to be represented by a Maronite Christian. The presence of Mr. Nabih Berri, who had originally refused to become a cabinet member, has raised hoped that the new government may be able to ease tensions in war-torn Lebanon. According to political sources, the meeting, held in closed session, focused on ending current fighting, and re-opening Beirut port and airport, closed since Moslem militiamen seized West Beirut from the army in February. The ministers were also said to have discussed the re-opening of roads between Moslem-held West,and Christian-held, East Beirut. At present, the only link between the two sectors is the so-called Museum crossing. Shi'ite leader Nabih Berri raised the issue of the country's divided army, which he would like the government to reorganise before a possible deployment in Israeli-occupied territory in Southern Lebanon.
Source: JOSEPH DAOU