Naharnet

Bassil Says Syria Relation in Lebanon Interest, Slams Parties 'Exploiting' It

Free Patriotic Movement chief and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil stressed Friday that the relation with Syria is “in Lebanon's interest,” as he noted that it should not be “exploited” by any political party.

“Our relation with Syria is in the interest of Lebanon and all its components, but the relations with Syria cannot be the subject of domestic overbidding or exploitation by a certain party seeking to improve its own relation with Syria at Lebanon's expense,” Bassil said during a visit to Zahle.

“We have put an end to the subordinate and subservient foreign policy and we're now practicing an independent policy based on reciprocity for the sake of Lebanon,” the FM added.

“When Syria was in Lebanon, we confronted it until its withdrawal, and when Syria returned to its territory, we boldly declared our determination to establish the best relations with it. We are not ashamed of this and it changes nothing of our history,” the minister went on to say.

Turning to the controversy over Syria's return to the Arab League, Bassil said: “We were the first to call for Syria's return to the Arab League and we will not merely follow a certain side to Syria when they decide so.”

“We objected against the suspension of Syria's membership in the Arab League from the very beginning and we preserved the best ties with it and it is normal today to help in its return,” the FPM chief went on to say.

He added: “We are keen on our national unity but we also reject to subject our national interests to harm and we will not await a decision from beyond the border.”

“The war in Syria had suffocated us and the Arab markets were closed in our face, so it is unacceptable to suffocate ourselves during peacetime,” Bassil said.

Tensions have surged in Lebanon in recent weeks between parties who want Damascus to be invited to a key Arab economic summit in Beirut and others who reject its participation.

Some parties have meanwhile called for postponing the summit until after Syria's return to the Arab League.


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