BEIRUT: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday stressed the importance of rapidly electing a new Lebanese president, while praising former President Michel Sleiman for his work throughout his six-year term.
According to Sleiman’s office, Kerry phoned the former president and congratulated him on his efforts to protect Lebanon’s sovereignty and stability and preserve national unity despite neighboring turmoil ad violence.
Kerry reiterated his country's support for Lebanon and the Baabda Declaration, which the U.S. official said represented a cornerstone for future stability.
The declaration, Sleiman’s most renowned accomplishment, was signed by political leaders in 2012 to distance Lebanon from regional conflicts particularly the war in Syria.
Kerry also emphasized the importance of a speedy election and said his country would continue cooperation with Lebanese officials and constitutional institutions.
Sleiman thanked the secretary of state for the phone call, and took the opportunity to draw his attention to the burden of the Syrian refugees on Lebanon and the difficulty of tackling the crisis with minimal aid.
Sleiman left Baabda Palace last week without a successor as Lebanese politicians remain at deadlocked over who to elect as a new head of state.
With no candidate currently capable of winning the needed majority and a continuing lack of a consensus on a nominee, Lebanon’s presidential vacuum is expected to linger for a while.