Call for joint Arab action at Lebanese-Kuwaiti summit

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (R) receiving Lebanese President Michel Aoun at Kuwait International Airport in Kuwait City on Jan. 23, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018

Call for joint Arab action at Lebanese-Kuwaiti summit

BEIRUT: Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for increased Arab unity at the official Lebanese-Kuwaiti talks in Kuwait on Tuesday.

The two leaders announced plans to improve cooperation between the countries and highlighted the need for joint action, and to seize the chance to unite Arab stances and restore solidarity during the upcoming Arab Summit.

Kuwait’s emir and Lebanon’s president also condemned the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a statement released after the summit.

President Aoun expressed his gratitude “for Kuwait’s support for Lebanon in all circumstances.”

He requested that Kuwait participate in all three conferences for supporting Lebanon: The Rome Conference, the Paris Conference and the Brussels Conference, which will be held next month.

According to the Press and Information Office at the Baabda Palace, Emir Al-Sabah told President Aoun during a one-on-one meeting that “he has given his directives to the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to provide Lebanon with economic support and respond to its needs.”

He also said: “We will not hesitate to help Lebanon, whether directly or through international conferences.”

Kuwait’s emir believes his country’s current membership of the UN Security Council “can help highlight the rightness of Arab causes.”

According to his press office, Aoun said that Lebanon’s current stability encouraged investment and contribution to the economic development plan currently being developed.

He also referred to the suffering of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the repercussions of their presence on Lebanon’s economy, social life and security conditions.

President Aoun arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday for an official two-day visit, during which he will meet Kuwaiti officials and members of the Lebanese community living there.

The Lebanese-Kuwaiti summit was held in the conference hall at the Bayan Palace.

It began with general talks followed by two bilateral meetings. The talks were attended by Aoun’s official delegation, which consists of Gebran Bassil, Jamal Jarrah, Ayman Choukair, Inaya Ezzeddine and Kuwaiti officials, including Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah, Adviser Mohammed Abdullah Abu Al-Hasan and Kuwait’s Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul-Al Al-Qena’i.

Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah said in a statement published by KUNA that the visit had been productive.

“The talks between Lebanon and Kuwait reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries, their people, and ways to improve them in all fields to meet their aspirations and expand the scope of cooperation between Kuwait and Lebanon in a manner that serves their common interests,” he said.

“A friendly and cordial atmosphere prevailed at the talks, reflecting the mutual desire for greater cooperation and coordination at all levels.”

President Aoun later met Bishop Ghattas Hazim, Metropolitan of Baghdad, Kuwait and Dependencies, in his residence at the Bayan Palace.

Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

Russian soldiers distribute aid in the central Syrian province of Homs. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018

Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

  • A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west
  • The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone

MOSCOW: The Russian Defense Ministry said it was coordinating efforts to help Syrian refugees return home and rebuild the country’s infrastructure destroyed by the civil war.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said in a conference call that included Russian and Syrian officials that work is underway to rebuild dozens of Syria’s power stations, schools and other vital institutions.
In Damascus, Syrian Public Administration Minister Hussein Makhlouf pledged the regime would protect refugee property rights and grant returning refugees a year’s deferral from military conscription.
“The Syrian government is working to simplify procedures for refugees who return, repair housing and try to create new jobs,” Makhlouf said, adding that the authorities were also working to streamline legislation to facilitate refugee returns.
He dismissed as hostile “propaganda” claims that some refugees were facing arrests on their return.
Makhlouf called on Western nations to drop their sanctions against Damascus, introduced early in the seven-year conflict, in order to help post-war restoration and encourage the return of the refugees.
Mizintsev said that over 1.2 million of internally displaced Syrians and about 300,000 refugees have returned in the past two and a half years.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin might take part in a summit with the leaders of Turkey and Iran at the beginning of September.
The three leaders met in April at a summit in Ankara where they discussed developments in Syria.
With help from its Russian ally, President Bashar Assad’s regime has expelled fighters from large parts of Syria’s south since June.
Israel has repeatedly pledged to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence along its border. A series of airstrikes that killed Iranians inside Syria have been attributed to Israel.
A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west.
The Russian army’s Lt.-Gen. Sergei Kuralenko told reporters on an organized press tour this week how “stability” had returned to the buffer zone.
Apart from “a few problems with Daesh” in its southern tip, the demilitarized zone was “entirely under control of Syrian military police,” Kuralenko said.
“Everything is ready” for the return of UN troops, he said, after the peacekeepers were forced to withdraw in 2014.
After retaking most of the two southern provinces adjacent to the buffer zone, regime forces last month raised their flag inside, above the key border crossing of Quneitra.
The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone, Kuralenko said, and plan to set up four more in the near future.
They are “willing to hand them over to the UN if it says it is ready to ensure the monitoring of the Golan alone,” he said.