BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman said that Russia should help Lebanon in providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugees fleeing the unrest in Syria after meeting with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Sleiman said that Russian humanitarian intervention for Syrian refugees in Lebanon was important, calling on Russian officials to join the upcoming conference on Syria later this month.
“It is important that Russia plays a big role on the global level during the upcoming conference to help the Syrian refugees by sharing the burden of helping the displaced along with other influential powers in the world,” Sleiman said.
The president is on a three-day official visit to Moscow and is scheduled to hold talks with his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin Wednesday.
Sleiman is the second Lebanese official to visit Russia this month, with the issues of the Syrian conflict and refugees high on the agenda.
Sources close to Sleiman’s delegation told The Daily Star that the president would attempt to garner stronger military support for the Lebanese Army from Moscow while on his official trip.
“Relations between Lebanon and Russia are friendly in many fields, and I hope Russian expertise would help Lebanon, especially after bidding on offshore drilling starts,” Sleiman said in reference to Lebanon’s maritime gas reserves.
During a meeting with Medvedev, Sleiman said Lebanon is eager to strengthen cultural and economic relations with Russia. Medvedev for his part said that the Russian Federation Council has agreed to help improve Lebanon’s military capacity through the establishment of a joint-ministerial committee in the next few months.
“Russia remains committed to advance Lebanon’s military capabilities and is looking forward to expand its relations with Lebanon,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev, who praised Sleiman’s role in calling for dialogue in Lebanon, said the countries could expand their relations: “Lebanon and Russia agree on a range of regional and international issues.”
Separately, Sleiman met with Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko to discuss bilateral relations between the countries’ parliaments.
Matviyenko said that Sleiman’s leadership in maintaining political and economic stability in Lebanon has proved significant: “We stress on the policies that Lebanon has adopted on a number of issues, and we praise the efforts of the president for maintaining political and economic stability in the country.”
On Monday, Sleiman was granted an award for promoting dialogue between rival factions in a ceremony in Moscow. The annual award was given to Sleiman by the International Institution for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia hosted a banquet in honor of Sleiman and first lady Wafaa Sleiman at the patriarchate.
Also Tuesday, Sleiman met with representatives of Lebanese expatriates in Russia. During the meeting, he called on Lebanese businessmen to remain committed to Lebanon.
Sleiman will conclude his visit and return to Lebanon Wednesday following his talks with Putin in Moscow.