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EU says understands Lebanon’s dissociation policy
Syrian children play inside of a refugee camp in Arsal, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (The Daily Star/Rakan al-Fakih)
Syrian children play inside of a refugee camp in Arsal, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (The Daily Star/Rakan al-Fakih)
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BEIRUT: The European Union said Saturday it understood Lebanon’s dissociation policy toward events in Syria and said it was committed to offering humanitarian assistance to those fleeing violence in Lebanon’s neighbor.

Olof Skoog, head the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the Council of the European Union, following a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail, also said the EU would continue to offer assistance on border security, a statement from Mikati’s office read.

President Michel Sleiman and Mikati said Friday that Lebanon would maintain a disassociation policy toward Syria while extending aid to refugees.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly Thursday night in New York City, Mikati warned that the drawn-out crisis in Syria threatens civil peace in the Middle East and said the world must isolate Lebanon from it. He also stressed that “Lebanon adheres to the disassociation policy, but not in terms of the humane duty toward Syrian refugees.”

According to the statement Saturday, Skoog said the committee had met during its visit with representatives from the Lebanese Army and that the delegation backed the work of security forces, particularly the military, which he said is tasked with maintaining the rule of law and protecting citizens in the face of external and internal threats on the basis of human rights.

Skoog also condemned repeated violations and security incidents along the border with Syria.

Since the uprising in Syria in May of last year, incidents along the border have increased, with some leading to fatalities. Thousands of Syrians fleeing the violence in their country have also sought refuge in Lebanon.

The PSC, composed of ambassadors of the 27 EU states, arrived in Lebanon Friday and will end its visit to the country later Saturday.

Skoog said the EU backed Lebanon’s efforts to safeguard security, overcome differences, strengthen national unity and peace, as well as reviving National Dialogue.

He also praised Lebanese authorities, international partners and non-governmental organizations working on the ground to provide assistance to those fleeing the violence in Syria.

The PSC head also said the EU remained prepared to offer assistance and support to refugees.

The EU official urged all Lebanese to work toward defusing tensions and to search for constructive solutions to resolve issues of national unity.

Skoog also said the EU stresses the importance of capable, independent and democratic institutions for the future of Lebanon.

He said Lebanon’s commitment to U.N. resolutions 1559, 1680, 1701 and 1757 were crucial and praised the role of United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon alongside the Lebanese Army which he said played a key role for peace in the region.

 
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