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Lebanese cabinet approves regional Amnesty International office in Beirut

'This is a very exciting step for us -- it offers Amnesty

International an opportunity to contribute more fully,

here as elsewhere, to the movements in the Middle East

actively engaged in building up a human rights culture

in the region,' said Pierre San», Secretary-General of

Amnesty International.

'Amnesty International looks forward to cooperating with the Lebanese

Government and other governments in the region in promoting human rights

and contributing to a culture of justice and tolerance.'

'We regard this decision as a further consolidation of the Lebanese

Government's positive opening towards human rights,' he added.

Amnesty International, a world-wide human rights organisation with

more than one million members in more than 150 countries, already has

regional offices in the Americas (Costa Rica), Africa (Kampala) and Asia

(Hong Kong). Its Beirut office, which will serve the Middle East, will

focus initially on programs for human rights education and awareness and in

providing training in various fields.

The go-ahead for a deconcentrated office in Beirut was initially given

during a visit in November 1999 of Amnesty International delegates, who had

meetings with the Prime Minister, Salim el-Huss; Deputy Prime-Minister and

Minister of the Interior, Michel el-Murr; and Education Minister Mohammed

Youssef Beidun.

Members of Amnesty International seek to assist in human rights

promotion or education work and also take part in international activities

on behalf of human rights worldwide. In order to safeguard the human rights

organization's impartiality, its members are not permitted to conduct

research or make public statements on the human rights situation in their

own country.

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