French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli gestures during a round table in Beirut, Thursday, July 10, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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More than 20,000 French citizens in the country celebrate France's National Day Monday, with Ambassador Patrice Paoli using the occasion to call for the respect of international borders and Lebanese unity to prevent the country from being drawn into regional conflicts.The National Day will be marked at the ambassador's Residence des Pins, the same place where in 1920 French General Henri Gouraud first defined the modern borders of Greater Lebanon, one of many Middle Eastern nation states carved out of the fallen Ottoman Empire by France and Britain following the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 .Critics accuse the Sykes-Picot pact of inadvertently stoking religious strife by forcing different confessions together in heterogeneous states, but Paoli countered by saying that Lebanon – a melting pot of sects – was an example for religious tolerance in the region.Paoli insisted that France had no preferred candidate in the election.Paoli further added that France had no position with regard to amending the Lebanese Constitution, describing the matter as "an internal affair".
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