BEIRUT: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrived in Beirut Thursday on the first day of a two-day visit dedicated to addressing the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the humanitarian situation inside Syria.
Speaking to reporters upon his arrival at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport, Fabius said that the issue of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon is urgent as many Syrians are now fleeing into the country.
“I was in Jordan, and tomorrow I will head to Turkey; and we will discuss the humanitarian issue as well as the military situation and the Syrian opposition,” Fabius said.
Fabius reiterated France’s support for Lebanon, saying that the country is passing through a difficult period, as are other countries in the region.
The French official first visited Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss the ongoing developments and Lebanon’s obligations toward the Syrian refugees.
Following the meeting, Berri said that Lebanon is doing “its humanitarian duties toward the Syrian refugees.”
“Lebanese and Syrians are like one people, and the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese is what distanced them, but the two people were and will remain sister countries at all times,” said Berri, who also asked Fabius to intervene and help secure the release of the kidnapped pilgrims.
The fate of the 11 pilgrims remains unclear after Wednesday’s airstrikes on the Azaz region where the pilgrims were being held. Berri also said that he agreed with Fabius on the need to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis that safeguards Syria’s independence and sovereignty.
Fabius later met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati and discussed the latest regional developments and the Lebanese government’s policies to protect the country from the repercussions of the Syrian crisis.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 17, 2012, on page 4.