Russia supports Lebanon’s integrity, ready to cooperate with it – FM.

25/7 Tass 321

MOSCOW, July 25 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia invariably supports the integrity of sovereign Lebanon and is committed to multifaceted cooperation with that country, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, July 25, after a meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and the Lebanese Charge d’Affaires in Moscow.

“During the conversation initiated by the Lebanese side, the diplomats discuss pressing issues of Russian-Lebanese relations and the situation in Libya, Syria and the Middle East in general,” the ministry said.

“The Russian side stressed the invariability of support to integrity and stability in sovereign Lebanon, and reiterated its readiness to continue multifaceted cooperation with that country and develop contacts with its leading public and political forces,” the ministry said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov earlier noted good prospects for bilateral cooperation after visits to Russia by President Suleiman and Prime Minister Hariri, particularly in the energy sector and in the fields of water economy and military-technical cooperation.

In his opinion, “It is necessary to exert effort in order to implement the agreements that were reached.”

During his previous visit to the region last November, Saltanov and Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Al Shami discussed “pressing issues of Russian-Lebanese relations, with a focus on the importance of improving interaction between the foreign ministries of Russia and Lebanon in ensuring favourable conditions for the implementation of projects concerning economic, investment and military-technical cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The diplomats “exchanged views on the situation in the Middle East and other international issues of mutual interest.”

Saltanov stressed that “all pressing issues on the Lebanese national agenda should be solved by the Lebanese themselves, without outside interference, on the basis of the national Constitution, dialogue and accord among all leading political forces and confessions.”

“Violence should be excluded from political life in Lebanon once and for all,” he added.

Saltanov confirmed Russia’s invariable support for the special tribunal that will investigate the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and noted the importance of carrying out a thorough, impartial and unpoliticised investigation in order to ensure justice and help sustain stable and democratic development of sovereign Lebanon.

Russia called for a fair investigation of Hariri’s assassination from the very beginning, Andrei Nesterenko, a Foreign Ministry spokesman at that time, said.

“As is known, from the very beginning Russia called for a fair investigation of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination, for those responsible for this crime to be found and brought to account,” he said. “Our position remains unchanged.”

“We have always believed that this work has to be thorough and impartial, legally clean and unpoliticised,” the Russian diplomat said.

“It is important to avoid actions that can destabilise the situation in the country, including various proposals that can be fed to mass media and that would anticipate the verdict that should base on objective and thoroughly verified facts,” he said.

“Only in this case can we achieve the ultimate goal for which this body was created – ensuring justice and assistance to the democratic development of sovereign Lebanon in conditions of civil peace and internal consensus,” Nesterenko said.

Russia and Lebanon maintain active political dialogue and exchange visits on a regular basis. President Suleiman visited Russia in February 2010. Prime Minister Hariri, who was the parliamentary majority leader at that time, the defence minister, the Christian opposition leader, the chairman of the Progressive Socialist Party, and other Lebanese officials and politicians visited Russia in 2008-2009.

Lebanon was visited by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Federation Council Committee on International Relations Chairman Mikhail Margelov, who led a delegation of Russian observers to the parliamentary elections in Lebanon, and the Russian president’s special representative for the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Hariri met on December 17, 2009, on the sidelines of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

“During those contacts it was invariably confirmed that Russia supports the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Lebanese Republic, the resolution of issues on Lebanon’s national agenda in accordance with the Constitution through national dialogue and accord. This approach has met support among all sections of Lebanese society that has managed to overcome the acute internal political crisis of 2007-2008, largely owing to the efforts and authority of Michel Suleiman,” the Kremlin press service said.

In 2006, Russia helped Lebanon rebuild infrastructure damaged by disproportionate use of force in the conflict with Israel and Hezbollah.

Despite the negative effects of the global financial and economic crisis, trade turnover between Russia and Lebanon has stayed at slightly over 400 million U.S. dollars.

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