BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman returned to Lebanon after a weeklong tour of West Africa Wednesday, where he signed bilateral agreements and held talks with local officials.
Sleiman held meetings with the presidents of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal, resulting in 10 bilateral agreements between Lebanon and the West African countries. Also, the embassies of Senegal and Ivory Coast in Lebanon agreed to reopen after talks between Sleiman and officials from the two countries took place.
While on a layover in Algeria, Sleiman held discussions with his counterpart, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, focusing on improving ties between the two countries.
The visit also encouraged future investments between Lebanese businessmen and their counterparts in the African countries that were visited.
On his last stop in Nigeria, Sleiman underscored the need to maintain Lebanon’s disassociation policy toward the crisis in neighboring Syria.
“Lebanon remains an oasis of moderation ... and for this reason, we have adopted the ‘Baabda Declaration’ which [calls for] Lebanon’s neutrality toward the crisis in Syria,” Sleiman told members of the Lebanese community in Lagos.
“You [expatriates] have great concern that the turmoil around us will affect [Lebanon] and you fear that Lebanon will pay [the price of] others’ democracy,” Sleiman said.
During the visit, first lady Wafaa Sleiman held meetings with her counterparts and toured a number of Lebanese schools, checking on the situation of Lebanese students. She also visited a number of orphanages, humanitarian agencies and women’s rights organizations.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 21, 2013, on page 3.