Hariri: Investing in Lebanon Prepares for Massive Reconstruction of Syria

Prime Minister Saad Hariri, right smiles after he meeting Lebanon's newly elected President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. Aoun, on Thursday asked former Premier Saad Hariri to form a new government, after he secured an overwhelming parliamentary majority to be named as the next prime minister. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

At the opening of the Silk Road Conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri invited China and other countries to invest in Lebanon as a preparation for the massive reconstruction of Syria, as he called for joint efforts by private and public sectors between the two countries in that regard.

“China has always been a leading exporter to Lebanon. The same is not true of our exports to China. This calls for particular joint efforts by private and public sectors in our two countries. Today is a good start,” said Hariri at the opening of the conference “One Belt One Road in Lebanon” at the Adnan Kassar center for Arab economy.

“Relations between Lebanon and China are ancient. They developed as transport and communications grew always shrinking the distance. So today, in the age of the global village, none of us, Chinese or Lebanese have any excuse!” he added.

“Our ancestors traced the Silk Road, knowing its economic and social importance. Today, this importance has doubled to push economic growth and combat poverty and unemployment. This is the only way to combat extremism, bigotry, racism and isolation. In other words, it is the only way to preserve world stability and peace,” added the Premier.

Turning to the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Hariri said: “My government has adopted a new approach to dealing with the challenge of hosting over 1.5 million displaced Syrians.

“We thank the international community for humanitarian assistance extended to the Syrian displaced and we certainly hope it will continue. But our infrastructure and public services are simply not designed for this massive influx of users.”

He went on to say: “I am sure the Chinese government and private companies will understand how important this is, especially that investing in Lebanon today is preparing for the massive reconstruction of Syria when a political solution is reached, we hope sooner than later.”

“Lebanon is too important to be left alone,” he said, “Lebanon is the model of coexistence and dialogue. It is the model for political settlement so many crises in the region are seeking today. Security and stability of our country is my government’s utmost priority today. It should be the priority for everyone hoping to preserve these values in the world today.

Our choice is to travel down the road of hope, stabilization and development. And that’s just where the “silk road” might lead us all.”