Naharnet

'I Would Rather Deal with President Putin,' Says Hariri on Syria Ties

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has announced that he prefers to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding Syria and not to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Russia controls Syria. So we will deal with the Russians,” Hariri said in English in an interview with Euronews, when asked what the end of Syria's war would mean for Lebanon.

“I think Russia will have made its point,” the PM-designate answered when told that the Syrian regime is likely to recapture the rebel-held northern province of Idlib in the near future.

As for his relation with Russia, Hariri described it as "very good, perfect.”

“I have a very good relationship with Russia and I have a good relationship with President Putin that I respect very much. And I believe he is somebody we can work with," Hariri added.

Asked whether he thinks that he “will have to deal with Assad,” the PM-designate said: "I would rather deal with President Putin."

As for the relation with Hizbullah, Hariri said: "We have political differences. Hizbullah knows that and I know that. They will never accept my policies vis-a-vis the gulf and I will never accept their policy vis-a-vis Iran. But it does mean we should stop the country from functioning."

The prime minister-designate added that he will be working hard to form a government so he can implement the reforms Lebanon needs.

Asked what he thinks about U.S. President Donald Trump, Hariri said: "I think President Donald Trump is someone who is very clear. He says something, he does it. The issue we had in the past is that we didn’t know what the policy was. At least today I know the policy and I know whether to work around this policy or with this policy and at least there’s someone we can talk to and convince them about our situation."

Separately, Hariri reiterated that he wanted to “shock to the system” when he announced his resignation from Riyadh last year.

“I believed the government was going the wrong way. People were taking sides and we weren’t able to govern,” he added.


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