Lebanese Cabinet begins discussing austerity budget

Lebanon's Finance Minister says the government has started open-ended discussions to quickly approve the country's draft austerity budget.

Lebanon's economy is suffering from slow growth, a high budget deficit and massive debt.

Ali Hassan Khalil told reporters after the Cabinet meeting Tuesday that the government's aims to reduce the percentage of the budget deficit compared with the gross domestic product.

Leaks through the media about steps that could include cutting end of service and social benefits of civil servants have led to protests around Lebanon by retired military personnel and others.

The Labor Union called for a three-day strike starting Thursday if workers' demands are not met.

Khalil said he does not know the reason behind the call for the strike adding that the budget has not been approved yet.