Lebanon's President Michel Aoun looks on during a state visit on September 26, 2017 at Hotel de Ville in Paris. AFP / POOL / STEPHANE MAHE
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President Michel Aoun acknowledged Monday that Lebanon's sectarian-based ruling system is hampering attempts to carry out fundamental political and economic reforms, viewed as the key to fighting rampant corruption in the public administration and halting waste of public funds.Aoun, who was elected president on Oct. 31, 2016, as part of a political settlement that also brought Saad Hariri to the premiership, ending a presidential vacuum that lasted two and a half years, reassured the Lebanese that the security situation was under control.Aoun, a key ally of Hezbollah, defended the party retaining its arsenal despite local and foreign demands for the Iranian-backed group to disarm.Aoun said that Lebanon and Hezbollah were abiding by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended Israel's 34-day war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006,However, Aoun appeared to link the fate of Hezbollah's arsenal to an overall peace settlement for the decadeslong Arab-Israeli conflict.Aoun, who has visited some Arab countries since his election, said he has not so far received an official invitation to visit Syria, where rival Lebanese factions are sharply split over dealing with President Bashar Assad's regime.
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