BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Bolstering Army a national priority: Berri

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri delivers a speech during a dinner held by the Lebanese ambassador in his honor, in Kuwait, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.

BEIRUT: Berri arrived in Tehran Monday following a trip to Kuwait over the weekend, where he spoke of the need to bolster the Lebanese Army in the wake of recent deadly bomb attacks across Lebanon.

“Today, I consider strengthening the Lebanese Army a national priority,” Berri said from Kuwait.

He also expressed hope that the new Government announced by Prime Minister Tammam Salam Saturday would increase the number of military personnel.

“Lebanon is about to turn into a [new] frontline in Syria’s [war] that is plaguing Tripoli, Hermel and Akkar,” Berri said during a Sunday dinner held by the Lebanese ambassador in his honor.

“The truth is that all of Lebanon is a target – its Army, its resistance, its regions, its capital and its [southern] suburbs – and not just political figures,” he added.

Lebanon continues to feel the repercussions of the conflict in Syria, with recurrent armed clashes in the northern city of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Border regions in Akkar, in the north, and Arsal, in the northeast, have also come under repeated Syrian bombardment since the uprising began in March 2011.

The pro-Hezbollah southern suburbs of Beirut and the northeastern town of Hermel have also been the scene of recent car bombings linked to the Syria crisis.

Berri assured Lebanese living in Kuwait that Lebanon “will not fall," despite the threat of terrorism.

The Speaker said he hoped the Salam government – after winning a vote of confidence – would be prepared to face the challenges posed by terrorism, the influx of Syrian refugees and a deteriorating economy.

The government should also take measures to determine the maritime boundaries and move forward on the newfound offshore oil and gas resources, Berri said.

Berri added that the new Cabinet must not forget Lebanon’s legitimate right to liberate its land from Israeli occupation.

He stressed that Lebanon will not remain "neutral" in the face of Israeli attacks, and vowed to continue supporting the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

“I support an Arab Lebanon which favors a political solution in Syria and agreement among the Syrians to improve the regime," he said. "[I support] an Arab Lebanon that favors a united Iraq and Egypt."

He said Lebanon should not only be strong in its “resistance” along the national borders, but should also work towards resolving the socioeconomic crisis, and holding timely presidential and parliamentary elections based on a new electoral law.

Upon his arrival in Iran, Berri released a statement urging Arab and Muslims states to remain united for Palestine.

 

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