Lebanon News

Salam rejects Bassil offer to talk to Syria: minister

Prime Minister Tammam Salam is said to have ruled out any direct talks with Syria over the refugee crisis, in keeping with Lebanon's Baabda Declaration. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam Monday was said to have rebuffed a proposal by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil that calls for communication between the Lebanese and Syrian governments over the Syrian refugee crisis.

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said Salam, in line with his commitment to the Baabda Declaration, had rejected Bassil’s offer made during a recent meeting with the head of the UNHCR, Antonio Guterres.

The Baabda Declaration calls for disassociating Lebanon from regional conflicts, particularly the Syria crisis.

Derbas, in comments published Monday by the local daily Al-Mustaqbal, said Bassil had proposed interaction between the governments of Lebanon and Syria toward the establishment of Syrian refugee camps in a neutral area inside Syrian territory.

He said Salam’s response was that “if the U.N is able to help and discuss this issue with the Syrians, this is great, but we as a Lebanese government are committed to the disassociation policy.”

"Bassil has made a judgment and we are against this judgment - to communicate with the Syrian government - because this is something that has not been agreed on and cannot be approved, particularly since we adhere to the disassociation policy as Prime Minister Salam has told the U.N. delegation,” Derbas said.

Derbas said he personally supported the establishment of refugee camps on the outskirts of Lebanon’s border, such as renting land in the Akkar plains and the foot of the Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range.

Derbas also said that providing prefabricated houses for Syrian refugees at reception centers would be a good idea since they could move them later to their countries, pointing to the presence of 1,350 random refugee centers spread across Lebanon.





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