BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman arrived Friday in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo on a two-day visit during which he will meet with his counterpart President Jose Mujica and several senior officials after wrapping up his visit to Argentina.
Sleiman, who was greeted by Uruguay’s acting Foreign Minister Leonard Condi at the airport in Montevideo, headed to the Radisson Victoria Plaza Hotel, accompanied by Beirut’s Ambassador to Uruguay George Louis Khoury.
Sleiman kicked off a Latin American tour Monday in the Peruvian capital of Lima , where he headed the Arab delegation at the summit of South American-Arab Countries.
He then headed to Argentina, where Lebanese Ambassador Hisham Hamdan and a crowd of Argentineans of Lebanese origin hosted a ceremony in the capital Buenos Aires in his honor.
“Lebanon paid a big price for the values of democracy and freedom, and you [Argentinean-Lebanese] know this very well because your ancestors left Lebanon in search for freedom and dignity,” Sleiman said in the speech in Buenos Aires.
Sleiman also said that the developments in the Arab world and the wave of upheavals that resulted in democratic change will positively affect Lebanon. “I want to comfort you today that what the Arab countries are witnessing and the road to democracy will be in Lebanon’s interest in the future,” Sleiman said.
He also called on the Lebanese in Argentina to register their names at the embassy and Lebanese consulates to take part in the 2013 parliamentary elections. “As I’ve said before, there are political and economic opportunities awaiting Lebanon, we should benefit from them to strengthen our position ... This is the duty of both residents and expatriates,” Sleiman said.
According to Sleiman, Lebanon’s economy is in “good shape” and has seen growth in the past few years. “This growth has recently weakened because of the unrest in the Arab world ... But with the help of Lebanese expatriates, the country will see growth once again.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 06, 2012, on page 2.