Hollande Says Election of President Lies in Hand of Lebanese, Promises Swift Military Aid

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  • W460
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French President Francois Hollande said during a visit to Beirut on Saturday that he was eager to make a third trip to Lebanon to meet with the country's new head of state, calling for the swift election of a president.

"I want to visit Beirut again when there is a president in Lebanon but the issue lies in the hand of Lebanese lawmakers ... who should resolve the deadlock and elect a head of state," said Hollande following talks with Speaker Nabih Berri.

"France stands by Lebanon and is keen on consolidating security in Lebanon through military cooperation," he said during a short press conference that he held with Berri.

Hollande first visited Beirut in 2012.

The speaker said he discussed with Hollande military aid to Lebanon, the demarcation of the maritime border, terrorism and the regional tension.

Following their meeting, the French president headed from the parliament in downtown Beirut's Nejmeh Square to the nearby Grand Serail where he held talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

Salam said at a joint press conference that Hollande stressed to him "French keenness on Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty, and the functioning of state institutions which requires a president first."

The PM also hoped that Paris would "resume its efforts to push for the election of a new head of state."

Hollande praised Salam and said France stands by Lebanon due to their historic ties, geographic proximity and relations that were developed between the two countries one generation after the other.

He reiterated that a president should be swiftly elected and said France will provide "immediate" military assistance to Lebanon.

The French defense minister will hold talks with his Lebanese counterpart to hear the demands of the Lebanese army, Hollande told reporters.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian "will define with his Lebanese counterpart (Samir Moqbel) material resources to strengthen Lebanon's ability to ensure its security".

His pledge came a month after Saudi Arabia suspended a grant to finance $3 billion worth of French weaponry for Lebanon.

He also revealed that French assistance to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon will reach 50 million euros this year and 100 million euros in the coming years.

The official welcome ceremony for Hollande, who was on a two-day visit to Lebanon, was held at the parliament building since Lebanon has been without a head of state for almost two years.

Hollande carries a message that will urge the Lebanese and its regional partners to distance the country from regional turmoil, a senior French official at the Elysee Palace told the National News Agency.

“Hollande carries with him a stern message that includes calling the Lebanese and the regional partners to take some steps in order to separate the situation in Lebanon from the regional tension particularly in the security files,” the unnamed source said on condition of anonymity.

“The institutional crisis and the divisions over the regional situation have been weakening the state's policies because of the presidential vacuum,” it added.

Lebanon has been in a presidential vacuum since the term of President Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014.

Efforts to fill the post have been thwarted over conflicts between the March 8 and March 14 camps.

“Hollande will confirm France's support for Lebanon which is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis," said the source.

Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian refugees, the equivalent of a quarter the country's population of 4.5 million. There also about 400,000 Palestinian refugees spread in 12 camps.

Visiting a Syrian refugee encampment is one of the French President's plans where he will meet with a family from Syrian origin. He is set to meet another two families residing at the International Red Cross headquarters who are preparing papers for residency in France.

The French president will reiterate that “his country assumes responsibility towards the refugees and countries neighboring Syria. Paris has announced in September 2015 that it will grant 100 million euros of additional aid to these countries, of which 40 million are for Lebanon,” the source said.

SourceNaharnet
Comments 13
Thumb barrymore 16 April 2016, 09:38

Urge and urge

Missing humble 16 April 2016, 10:01

Distancing Lebanon is giving it a status of Neutrality. This is the only way for a beautiful and prosperous Lebanon.

Thumb kanaanljdid 16 April 2016, 13:10

A dream for most Lebanse, a nighmare for HizbilIran

Missing humble 16 April 2016, 13:47

A nightmare for Ebola but a fantastic opportunity for all the Lebanese people including those who are not aware of it.

Thumb kanaanljdid 16 April 2016, 18:44

This day will come inshallah, for sure. The question is when, and until when Lebanese will have to suffer from useless wars.

Thumb tric.portugal 16 April 2016, 15:48

Holland gonna visit Arsal!!!??? a front line in Lebanon against Qaeda...

Thumb tric.portugal 16 April 2016, 15:49

Qaeda that fight the Lebanese Army with frech weapons

Thumb tric.portugal 16 April 2016, 15:52

Holland do not go visit General Aoun!!!??? with 90% of Cristhians support is the Supreme Commander of Lebanon...

Missing humble 16 April 2016, 16:51

Tric Trac

His name is the caporal and he is a traitor to 90% of the Cristhians....

Missing humble 16 April 2016, 16:49

Chez Maurice

What a beautiful name! What a stupid comment !!!!

Default-user-icon Vick (Guest) 16 April 2016, 18:21

Berri looks like restaurant waiter ,incopetant man like most politicians.

Thumb tric.portugal 17 April 2016, 03:44

Holland visit Lebanon in a time that the Islam are violated the Taef Accords and National Pact against the Cristhians...in Time of the final step of extrimination of the Cristhian Civilization in Levant...in a time that the jews-Mecca-Otomans are promoting the internationall Islamic Movement "Ocupy Europe"...in a Time that the France, belongs to the Caliphate of Mecca!!...

Thumb tric.portugal 17 April 2016, 03:44

In a Time, that Paris persecuted the Vatican interests in the Planeth and promoted the Jewish and Mecca interests, we can see that clear in Norh Africa and Levant...In a time that the Islamic Organization that have a meeting and accuse Europe of islamofobie because of the refugies, the same refugies that are refuzed by the Islamic World...International islamic Meeting in Daesh land of Turkey and not a word about the transference of syria refuggies to Islamic Nations onlie for Cristhians Nations...Qatar and Saudis and Jews promoted the war in Syria, with the support of Holland, and send the refugies to Europe...and Lebanon!!! Holland arrived in Lebanon and do not visited the Commander Supreme of the Armie Lebanon, General Aoun !!? the Impact of the strategic decisions of Holland in the Cristhian Civilization in Levant was dantesc!!