Report: Gharib’s Visit to Syria Stirring ‘Disapproval’
The controversial visit of Lebanon’s State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib to Syria to discuss the refugees file received no applause from Lebanese officials, media reports said on Tuesday.
“The majority of officials were not aware of Minister Gharib's plan to visit Syria. It was arranged by party apparatus,” ministerial sources told al-Joumhouria daily. “The government has not held any meeting yet to decide such official visits by ministers after gaining confidence vote.”
The sources pointed out that "Gharib has not yet seen the scheduled plans or programs in the ministry before the visit to know the policy to be applied. Furthermore, he has not discussed this file with anyone yet. That's why there will be harsh reactions at the Cabinet meeting next Thursday.”
On the other hand, sources at the Center House of Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the Premier was not informed about the visit.
“The Prime Minister was not informed about this visit. Gharib did not ask for permission, and the government has not met yet to decide on it. It can only be considered a private visit that does not bind the Lebanese government,” they said.
On Monday, Gharib met with Syria’s Local Administration and Environment Minister Hussein Makhlouf in Syria where discussions highlighted the file of Syrian refugees.
His visit cames three days after Hariri's new government won a vote of confidence in parliament and ahead of first Cabinet meeting.
Coordination between Lebanon and Syria on the return of Syrian refugees is a highly controversial issue in Lebanon.
Lebanese officials are divided over the conditions needed for them to return back.