BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman stressed Wednesday in New York that his country’s neutrality toward the conflict in Syria, the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 and border control are key to stability in Lebanon.
Sleiman made the remarks during the inaugural meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon at the United Nations which highlighted the urgent need to enhance Lebanon’s economy.
A statement from the president’s office said Sleiman “stressed the need for continued support from internal parties and influential regional countries for the Baabda Declaration and the need to abide by it in word and deed.”
“Stability passes through the continuation of work on the implementation of Resolution 1701, controlling the border, fighting terrorism, development of the political system and seeking an agreement on a national strategy to defend Lebanon,” Sleiman said.
The president also highlighted the need for continued international support toward promoting diplomatic preventive measures and a peaceful resolution of conflicts as in the case of Syria.
Sleiman also called for a just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on U.N. resolutions, the Madrid Conference and the Arab peace initiative.
The primary mission of the International Support Group for Lebanon, which was headed by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, is to shield Lebanon against the war in Syria through supporting Lebanese state institutions.
The group’s threefold objectives include supporting Lebanon’s battered economy, assisting the poorly equipped military and helping Lebanon cope with the growing Syrian refugee population.
The biggest challenge facing Lebanon comes from the large number Syrians who have fled the fighting in Lebanon’s neighbor. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Lebanon is officially hosting more than 750,000 Syrian refugees.
The refugees are placing pressure on the country’s health and education sectors and increasing demand for utilities.