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Macron, Aoun discuss terrorism, Syrian crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the Elysee Palace at a start of a state visit in Paris, France, on Monday. (Reuters)
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s policy of disassociation from regional conflicts is the best way to maintain the country’s stability and sovereignty, French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday after meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun in Paris.
“In order to solve the problem of displaced people and terrorists, and to be able to provide a dignified future for the people of the region, we need a political solution… to the Syrian crisis,” Macron said.
He expressed hope that “together, in the coming weeks, we’ll be able to redesign a contact group and work together with partners in the region.”
Paris is keen on Lebanon’s unity, integrity and stability, Macron said at a joint press conference.
“Lebanon faces terrorism, as is the case in Europe. I commend the efforts of the Lebanese Army and its courage in fighting terrorism,” he added.
France will strengthen its support for Lebanon in its fight against terrorism, Macron said, adding: “France’s goal is to confront the dangers that undermine peace in Lebanon by strengthening the capabilities of the army so the Lebanese government can take control of the entire territory.”
Lebanon must remain a model of pluralism, tolerance and democracy, he said, promising to work on “organizing a donor conference for investors to help Lebanon and to relaunch the economy.”
Macron added: “We’re working together to develop a road map… aimed at promoting the French language and French culture in Lebanon in education, culture, newspapers, media and art.”
Aoun said he had agreed with Macron to strengthen bilateral relations at various levels, adding: “France supports the Lebanese Army, which has achieved victory over terrorism.”
On the issue of displaced Syrians, Aoun said “We’ve confirmed that those people don’t have refugee status and their presence in Lebanon is facing difficulties, despite our support for them.”
He said the two leaders discussed the Syrian and Palestinian crises. Aoun also hailed France’s role in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

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