Bassil, Ayrault Stress Need to Confront Joint Challenges, Terrorism and Migration

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil held a joint conference on Thursday with his visiting French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault where talks focused on boosting relations between the two countries to confront joint challenges, the National News Agency said.

“Both sides are called forth to re-establish and boost Lebanese-French ties facing common challenges, terrorism, and migration,” Bassil stated.

He noted that Lebanon was suffering the burden of a gigantic Syrian refugee crisis, adding that the sole solution remains in the refugees’ return to their homeland.

Lebanon is home to some 1.2 million refugees, around a quarter of the country’s population. Ayrault had disclosed earlier that France has given Lebanon 105 million euros ($110 million) to help it cope with the influx.

“We are more than confident that the forthcoming stage will herald positive accomplishments at the economic level. We will work hand-in-hand to revive the livelihood cycle in Lebanon,” Bassil added.

He also said that a meeting would be held by the International Support Group for Lebanon in an attempt to swiftly recover an active institutional life in Lebanon.

For his part, Ayrault said his country is keen to distance Lebanon from the Syrian conflict.

He also welcomed the Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s impending visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Lebanon is an example and a reference in the Middle East region, that’s why it should maintain a good relation with all its partners, away from regional conflicts,” Ayrault said.

He finally lauded the efforts of the Lebanese security forces safeguarding Lebanon and its borders by means of relentlessly fighting terrorism.