Russia's special presidential envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, second left, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin, left, meet with Hariri in Beirut, Thursday, July 26, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Lebanese officials Thursday welcomed Russia's proposal for the return of Syrian refugees, pledging to form a committee to oversee the return with General Security playing a key role, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. Lebanon took its position during talks between high-level Lebanese and Russian delegations at Baabda Palace, which included the Russian president's Syria envoy, Alexander Lavrentiev, and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and others, were briefed on the Russian proposal.Aoun informed Lavrentiev that Lebanon welcomed the Russian proposal because it aligned with the country's call for a safe return of Syrian refugees, according to a statement from the president's office.Following the meeting, Aoun, Berri and Hariri met to assess the Russian initiative. Lavrentiev, who met with Syrian President Bashar Assad Wednesday, said that the Syrian government had expressed its support for the Russian initiative and as willing to help in the return process.The Russian Defense Ministry announced that over 1.7 million Syrian refugees would be able to return to Syria in the near future, including a possible 890,000 from Lebanon.
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