Aoun Meets Putin's Special Envoy, Receives Invitation to Astana III


President Michel Aoun received at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin, in the presence of Russian Ambassador Alexander Zaspkin and the accompanying diplomatic delegation, the National News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Discussions focused on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, mainly in Syria, and the issue of repatriation of Syrian refugees.

Lavrentiev handed Aoun an invitation to participate in the upcoming round of Astana III talks set for July, said NNA.

Lavrentiev's visit is part of a tour of the region involving Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The Russian envoy later met with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil. After the meeting he said: "We discussed the Syrian displacement issue and efforts are ongoing to resume the Russian initiative."

Lavrentiev also met Wednesday with Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

"We have the ability to expedite the solution of this (refugee) issue, because the presence of displaced Syrians is deepening the problem" in Lebanon, the envoy said after the talks.

"We agreed with the Lebanese side on further coordination with the partners, especially the European countries, to convince them of backing the process of the return of refugees," he added.

On Tuesday, Lavrentiev met with Speaker Nabih Berri. Talks with the Speaker tackled “the current developments in Lebanon and the region, especially in Syria and the issue of refugees,” said media reports.

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