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Lebanon assumes chairmanship of Arab League
Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour attends a meeting at the Interior Ministry in Beirut, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour attends a meeting at the Interior Ministry in Beirut, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour took over the chairmanship of the Arab League in Cairo Wednesday for six months, saying 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 to 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,” the foreign minister said.

Mansour also renewed Lebanon’s support for the Palestinian cause, saying it would 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,” Mansour said.

President Michel Sleiman said earlier Wednesday that Lebanon would 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 dialogue.

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby inaugurated the organization’s 138th session, welcoming the attendees and giving the floor to Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi before it was Mansour’s turn to speak.

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 membership 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 have been met with a bloody crackdown, prompting many opponents of the regime to take up arms. The violence has left some 25,000 dead, according to Syrian opposition activists.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 06, 2012, on page 3.
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