BEIRUT: A national defense strategy for Lebanon could increase counter-terrorism capacities and help fight espionage, President Michel Sleiman said Friday.
“A defense strategy could enhance counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and money laundering,” Sleiman said during a speech at a reception for the diplomatic corp.
He hailed recent stability in Lebanon and said a $3 billion Saudi grant to help bolster the Lebanese Army “is sufficient to safeguard Lebanon and make the Army solely responsible for the defense of Lebanon in line with Resolution 1701.”
Sleiman renewed his warning against a power vacuum should his term end without a successor to replace him.
The president has said he would leave office at the end of his six-year mandate on May 25.
“Yes, we want a made-in-Lebanon president, but sometimes, some states help achieve the election if they see the Lebanese are obstructing quorum,” he told diplomats.
On the presence of the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Sleiman called for creating buffer zones inside Syria for them.
“We must return the refugees to safe areas inside Syria. Ambassadors must provide direct support for Lebanese ministries in order to cope with the crisis and encourage the countries to split the burden,” he said.
Sleiman reiterated his commitment to “special ties” with Syria.
He also reiterated the need for a “just and comprehensive solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.