President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, considered that “The participation of around 40 countries and international financial institutions in the Paris Conference for Supporting the Lebanese People, which was held yesterday in Paris, confirms once again the international community’s interest in Lebanon. It also confirms the keenness of member states to help Lebanon confront the difficult challenges it is passing through”.
President Aoun received the British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Mr. James Cleverley, today at Baabda Palace.
The President told Minister Cleverley that the British participation in the Paris Conference, along with other countries, “Constitutes an incentive for the Lebanese state to assume its responsibilities in securing its credibility and desire to undertake the necessary and essential reforms to achieve economic advancement, which represents a comprehensive Lebanese demand firstly, and an international demand secondly”.
In addition, President Aoun expressed his gratitude for the British assistance to Lebanon, in various fields, including military, humanitarian and economic issues, and its rush after the Beirut Port explosion to alleviate the pain of those affected and provide them with material and moral support, as well as sending two emergency medical teams and a team of search and rescue experts.
The President then praised the efforts of British Ambassador, Chris Rampling, which contributed to strengthening Lebanese British relations. On the other hand, President Aoun briefed Minister Cleverley on the difficulties facing Lebanon, including the repercussions of the Syrian war, and the displacement of more than one million and 800 thousand Syrians to Lebanon and its reflection on the various Lebanese sectors especially since Lebanon has suffered direct losses exceeding to 45 billion US Dollars so far, in addition to indirect damage on the Lebanese economy, due to border closure.
The President also renewed his call for the international community to support the safe return of Syrian refugees to the safe areas, asserting the necessity of providing assistance to the Syrians in Syria, in order to encourage this return.
President Aoun concluded by indicating that “The international community, which is following-up the reform process in Lebanon, should be assured that reform is my battle since 2005, and it was repeated in 2009. Adherence to forensic audit is an important and essential starting point for this reform”.
For his part, Minister Cleverley expressed his happiness for his stay in Lebanon, stressing that Britain stood by the Lebanese side in the difficult circumstances in which they live in, and it support Lebanon in all fields. Cleverley also stated that this support is the reason for Britain’s participation in yesterday’s Paris Conference, praising the professionalism with which the Lebanese army functions and the existing cooperation with the British military leadership, assuring of the continuation of assistance to the Lebanese army.
Attendees on the British side: British Ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling, Director of the Middle East Department at the British Foreign Office, Charles King, Special Secretary to the Minister, Miss Harriet Bell, and Political Secretary in the Ministry, Simon Odenell.
Attendees on the Lebanese side: Foreign Affairs Minister, Charbel Wehbe, former Minister, Salim Jreisatti, Presidency Director-General, Dr. Antoine Choucair and advisers, Mr. Rafic Chelala and Ambassador Osama Khachab.
Source: National News Agency