BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman called Thursday for an immediate end to Lebanese participation in the fighting in neighboring Syria, reiterating that disassociation was the best means for safeguarding Lebanon from the war next door.
"Lebanon's solid stance is to disassociate itself from the negative repercussions of the Syrian crisis by refraining from and immediately ending interference in all of Syria’s internal affairs particularly the ongoing fighting there regardless of the justifications,” Sleiman said in a statement.
“Consequently, [parties] should encourage a consensus and political solution in Syria that restores stability, security and allows for the return of refugees to their home country as soon as possible,” he added.
The president also hoped that peace talks in Switzerland between the opposition and the regime would achieve pleasing results to end the crisis in Syria.
His remarks come at the backdrop of the Geneva 2 peace conference where caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour implicitly defended Hezbollah’s military role in Syria, saying critics of the group’s involvement sought to provide cover for the takfiri threat in Lebanon.
In his seven-minute-speech at the U.N.-sponsored peace talks, Masnour said “whoever claims what is happening in Lebanon is the result of Hezbollah’s participation in Syria seeks to divert attention from the facts and [provide] cover for the presence of takfiris and extremist groups in Lebanon.”
The March 14 coalition has argued Hezbollah’s participation in Syria violated the Baabda Declaration and the country’s policy of disassociation.
Sleiman has repeatedly asked all Lebanese parties in Syria to withdraw from Syria, warning of the repercussions on Lebanon.