Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, on Friday received his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and broached with him the existing Lebanese-Turkish ties, as well as the most recent developments in the region, especially the simmering Syrian refugee crisis.
In the wake of the meeting, both men held a joint press conference. Today, Lebanese-Turkish relations are at their best, and the leaderships of both countries enjoy mutual respect for one another, Bassil said.
"Politically, we look forward to greater coordination over basic issues, and we thank Turkey for standing by Lebanon in the face of Israeli aggressions, as well as for its participation in UNIFIL, Bassil added.
Today, we both endure many common challenges, the most important of which is the Syrian crisis, which caused the two countries to suffer the pain of security repercussions, especially with the infiltration of terrorism, Bassil maintained.
The Minister also pointed to the refugee crisis, which has burdened Lebanon the most not only on the regional level, but on the international level as a whole.
"Today, we consider that it is high time for Syrian citizens to return to their homeland in a dignified and safe way. We must cooperate and coordinate with Turkey, Jordan, and neighboring countries surrounding Syria, to secure conditions conducive to this return, Bassil explained.
"As for the Syrian turmoil, we support a political solution and support the right of the Syrian people to decide their own fate, along with our support to Astana, in which Lebanon participates as an observer, Bassil added, thanking Turkey for inviting Lebanon to be part of it. We also support the Geneva Conference and all international resolutions on Syria.
Touching on the Palestinian issue, Bassil pointed to what has recently been associated with Bahrain Conference and the deal of the century. Lebanon's position is principled in terms of refusing to buy the historical rights of the Palestinian people in Lebanon, he stressed.
The Minister also noted that talks with his counterpart had touched on the economic relations between the two countries and the need to strengthen and follow up on them.
"Trade exchange has reached approximately $1.2 billion US dollars. Turkey is a main tourist destination for the Lebanese (...). We hope that Turkey will encourage Turkish tourists to visit Lebanon as well, Bassil said.
In turn, Cavusoglu said that he was delighted to visit Lebanon. "I am very pleased to have met all the Lebanese politicians representing all the Lebanese communities, he said.
"We view Lebanon as a neighboring and sister country; its stability and growth are very important for us, and we will continue to support its development via cooperation between the two countries. We also care about the economic development in Lebanon, so we've discussed with Minister Bassil the best means to bolster and support the Lebanese economy, the Turkish Minister said. We know that Turkish companies want to invest in the Lebanese markets, so we support this for the development of its economy, he added.
He noted that Turkish companies would also like to invest in energy in Lebanon, and thanked the Lebanese state for its support and confidence in Turkey in this field.
We look forward to Lebanon's approval of the free trade agreement signed back in 2010, and we expect the Lebanese state to sign it for the integration of a trade cooperation in the region among all, Cavusoglu said.
"As for the region's policies, we never disagree with Minister Bassil; we share the same opinion on issues related to the region. We want a political solution to the Syrian crisis in the region, and wish of Lebanon to join the Astana talks, thus we've invited Lebanon as an observer state, he explained, adding that Iraq will also participate in these talks.
As for the Palestinian issue, the Turkish Minister said that his country would continue to defend Palestinian rights.
We want to inform the whole world, especially the United States, that Palestinian rights are neither sold nor bought. We are against the Israeli aggressions on Lebanese and Palestinian territories, as well as on Syrian territories in the Golan. We support all Lebanese efforts to confront the Israeli enemy, Cavusoglu affirmed.
Source: National News Agency