President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, met the French Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, today at Baabda Palace, in the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Abdallah Bou Habib.
The President informed Minister Colonna of Lebanon’s approval of the final formula prepared by the American mediator Amos Hochstein for the demarcation of the southern maritime border.
“This will constitute a basic entry point to confront the economic and financial crisis that Lebanon is suffering from, and will contribute to the Lebanese economic revival and launch the reconstruction workshop” President Aoun said.
President Aoun also thanked France for its role in achieving this demarcation, relying on an important role it can play in helping to put it into practice.
The President conveyed greetings for French President Emmanuel Macron considering him “A personal friend for him and Lebanon, who has always stood by us and supported our causes”.
In addition, President Aoun indicated that he has been seeking for quite some time to achieve change that will rebound positively on Lebanon, and to carry out some reforms at the political level, pointing out that some matters have been accomplished, including financial auditing, and meeting some conditions of the International Monetary Fund, which are essential to reaching an agreement with him, including the approval of the budget, and lifting of banking secrecy, in the hope that the approval of the restructuring of banks and the “Capital Control” law will be passed soon.
Moreover, the President emphasized working to achieve the presidential election, as well as his quest to form a new government, especially since time is not working for Lebanon’s interest, in light of the difficult conditions it is experiencing, and that it is very important to agree on a new President of the Republic who will assume his duties and ensure the continuation of the work of state institutions in addition to completing the anti-corruption process.
On the other hand, President Aoun asked Minister Colonna for French help in the matter of returning the displaced Syrians to their country, after their number exceeded two million people in Lebanon, who are also living in difficult conditions due to Lebanon’s inability to secure the necessary needs for them, and cholera cases have recently appeared in a number of their shelter camps, in addition to the economic, living and security problems caused by this huge number of displaced people.
Then, the President stressed the importance of their return to their country, especially since the return is safe in light of the stability that most Syrian regions enjoy.
President Aoun reiterated Lebanon’s categorical refusal to integrate the displaced into Lebanon, considering that all Lebanese stand against this step because of the negative aspects it bears for the Syrian and Lebanese peoples alike.
For her part, Minister Colonna thanked President Aoun for receiving her and the accompanying delegation, noting that it is a great honor to visit Lebanon and President Aoun, praising this country, which is at the heart of the Francophone countries and has managed, during two decades, to overcome all the difficulties and challenges it faced.
Minister Colona also explained that French President Emmanuel Macron asked her to convey his congratulations on the conclusion of the negotiations on the demarcation of the southern maritime border, and his wishes for prosperity for Lebanon and its people.
The French Minister also stressed the friendship that binds the two countries and peoples, noting that the French President seeks all friendly countries to help Lebanon, pointing out that after the demarcation negotiations ended, her visit to Lebanon is now taking place in a more positive atmosphere, and after Lebanon’s approval, Total will begin its work in detecting and verifying the quality of the existing oil, and that things will go on the right track.
Minister Colonna affirmed her country’s adherence to its friendship with Lebanon, especially in difficult times, and hoped that the Lebanese would be able to overcome the difficult circumstances that Lebanon is going through, elect a new President of the Republic and adopt the necessary reforms for economic advancement.
Finally, Minister Colonna praised President Aoun’s stances during his long career, considering that carrying out the necessary reforms and respecting constitutional deadlines would be a positive message to countries that, in turn, suffer from well-known crises, to begin the initiative to help. Minister Colonna also stressed the role of the House of Representatives in approving the necessary reform laws.
The meeting was attended by, Ambassador of France to Lebanon, Ms. Anne Grillo, Deputy Director of the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Céline Blass, Director of North Africa and the Middle East, Ms. Anne Gauguin, Counselor Bruno da Silva, Deputy Director of Egypt and the Levant in the French Foreign Ministry, Ms. Ines Benkrim, and the first secretary at the embassy in Beirut, Cantan Gante.
On the Lebanese side, former Minister Salim Jreissati, Director General of the Presidency of the Republic, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and advisors Rafic Shelala and Osama Khashab attended.
Before leaving Baabda Palace, Minister Colonna wrote in the golden log the following phrase:
“I came to Beirut full of hope and confidence in the future Lebanon, in light of these fateful times, bearing a message of friendship from France. We have always been on the side of the Lebanese people and we will accompany them in the projects they intend to implement”.