President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, held a press conference with Russian media correspondents on the eve of his state visit to Russia and his scheduled meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Aoun told Russian reporters that “the relationship between Lebanon and Russia is historic and dates back to the 19th century,” adding that he will discuss “ways to develop these relations in various fields, in addition to other topics, including the issues of the displaced, in the light of the Russian initiative, and the issue of Christians of the East.”
The President also underlined the importance of Russia in helping to establish the Human Academy for Convergence and Dialogue.
Tackling the issue of the displaced, Aoun said “Lebanon will review the international conditions, but will act according to what is dictated by its supreme interest. The international community is not helping it [Lebanon], while it helps the Syrians return home, bringing the number of returnees from Lebanon to 172 thousand displaced to date.”
“The High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who recently toured Syria and communicated personally, freely and without monitoring with the returnees, told us that their situation is good and they live there with satisfaction,” said the President.
Highlighting Lebanon’s intention to participate in the reconstruction of Syria, Aoun said “pressure is exerted on everyone not to participate in this process, in light of the international community’s linking reconstruction and repatriation of displaced people to the political solution.”
“The international community seeks to take the displaced hostage in the political solution talks,” he maintained.
Deeming the siege on Hezbollah as affecting all the Lebanese, Aoun said “Lebanon is a neutral country and no one can block us from any country in the world. We do not interfere with the problems of others, but we want to preserve our identity.”