BEIRUT: Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour, who took over the chairmanship of the Arab League in Cairo Wednesday for six months, said that Lebanon is paying the price of the crisis in Syria, but that it would strive to help its neighbor.
“We and the Arab countries will exert every effort to pull Syria out of its crisis," he said.
In his speech before the Arab League's Ministerial Council, Mansour thanked the League for the support it has extended Lebanon, and said that Arab solidarity engenders positive results.
“The Arab League has stood beside Lebanon in harsh circumstances, namely the July 2006 Israeli aggression against our country,” Mansour said.
He also renewed Lebanon’s support for the Palestinian cause, saying it will always remain a priority for his country.
“Lebanon’s borders are with Syria and the occupied Palestinian lands, and Lebanon will not refrain from offering all possible help to the Palestinian cause, as it has always done,” said Mansour.
President Michel Sleiman said earlier Wednesday that Lebanon will consecrate its policy of disassociation regarding regional events, particularly the crisis in Syria, when it chairs the Arab League’s ministerial council.
During a Cabinet session at the presidential palace, Sleiman reiterated Lebanon’s position that the only means to end the crisis is via dialogue.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi inaugurated the organization’s 138th session, welcoming the attendees and giving the floor to Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi before it was Mansour's turn ot speak. In his first visit as president to the Arab League’s headquarters, Mursi delivered a speech largely about the Arab Spring.
Besides the crisis in Syria, several important issues are on the session’s agenda, such as supporting the Palestinian cause, ways to activate the Arab peace initiative, and demonstrating Arab solidarity with Lebanon and the occupied Golan Heights in Syria, media reports said.
The Council’s meetings will take place over two days, and the Lebanese delegation will be headed by Lebanon’s ambassador to Egypt and envoy to the Arab League Khaled Ziadeh.
Representatives of Syria will not attend the council’s session, as the Arab League suspended their country last year; the suspension will continue until President Bashar Assad implements an Arab deal to end violence against protesters.
Lebanon has distanced itself from the uprising in Syria, in which peaceful demonstrations against the Assad regime were met with a bloody crackdown, prompting many opponents of the regime to take up arms. The violence has led to some 23,000 – 26,000 deaths, according to Syrian opposition activists.