Aoun Receives Congratulatory Calls from Hollande, Regional Leaders

President Michel Aoun received phone calls Monday from a number of heads of state who congratulated him on being elected as Lebanon’s 13th president.

French President Francois Hollande expressed “France’s permanent readiness to help Lebanon in light of the historic ties that gather the two countries,” Lebanon’s National News Agency reported.

Aoun for his part thanked Hollande for congratulating him, stressing “the firmness of the Lebanese-French ties” and lauding “the efforts that France has exerted to assist Lebanon in all fields.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile congratulated Aoun and hoped his election will boost bilateral ties between Lebanon and Iran.

“Your election comes at a very critical time during which the region is facing the threats of the takfiri movements and the terrorist groups and the ambitions of the Zionist entity (Israel). Iran is confident that your election will strengthen the axis of the Lebanese resistance in the face of these threat,” Rouhani added.

Aoun also received congratulatory phone calls from Syrian President Bashar Assad, Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Assad hoped Aoun’s election would contribute to “reinforcing stability” in Lebanon, Syria’s state news agency SANA said.

Aoun’s election ends a presidential void that lasted around two and a half years.

Analysts have warned that Aoun’s election will not be a “magic wand” for Lebanon, which has seen longstanding political divisions exacerbated by the war in neighboring Syria and has struggled to deal with an influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

In addition to pledges of economic growth and security, Aoun said in his oath of office that Lebanon must work to ensure Syrian refugees “can return quickly” to their country.

Aoun also pledged to endorse an “independent foreign policy” and to protect Lebanon from “the fires burning across the region.”