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Jumblatt in France: Lebanon should be spared from Syria crisis

  • French President Francois Hollande (L) attends a meeting with Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt (R) at the Elysee Palace in Paris January 28, 2013. In the background, Political adviser for North Africa, Middle East and United Nations Emmanuel Bonne (2ndL) and Deputy Spokesman at the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Romain Nadal (2ndR). REUTERS/Francois Mori/Pool

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party Leader MP Walid Jumblatt stressed Monday the importance of protecting Lebanon from the repercussions of the crisis in Syria.

“I informed French officials about the importance of Lebanon's stability, [National] Dialogue and the need to keep Lebanon safe from the repercussions of Syria’s crisis,” the LBC television channel quoted the PSP leader as saying after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande.

Lebanon’s Cabinet has adopted a policy of dissociating itself from developments in Syria.

However, the country’s political rivals remain divided over the uprising in Syria.

While the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition strongly defends the regime of President Bashar Assad, the March 14-led opposition has continuously voiced support for the rebels.

Jumblatt has also been a stout critic of Assad and a strong supporter of the Syrian rebels.

Jumblatt also reiterated Monday his call on Syria’s Druze to join the uprising against the Assad regime.

“We call once again on Arab Druze to reaffirm their national and historical stance in confronting injustice and protecting the unity of Syria with all other liberals in their struggle,” said Jumblatt in his weekly stance to the PSP-owned Al-Anbaa online website.

The PSP leader also accused the regime of inciting a civil war in Syria by enhancing sectarian divisions in the country.

“The Syrian regime is setting once again an example of its ongoing attempts to provoke a civil war between Syrians by inciting neighboring areas and sects against each other,” said the PSP leader.

Meanwhile, Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel headed Monday to the French capital for talks with the French president.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Mikati Monday addressed the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, saying it is normal for the Syrian crisis to affect Lebanon.

“Lebanon has always been influenced by Syria and it enjoys historic, geographic, and humanitarian ties with it, thus it is normal that its crisis would affect Lebanon,” Mikati was quoted as saying in a statement from his press office.

He added that this is why the government has decided to adopt a policy of dissociation from the crisis in the neighboring country.

“Given this reality, we took the decision to disassociate ourselves from the developments in Syria,” Mikati said.

The prime minister, however, said the situation in Lebanon remains “acceptable” in comparison to other counties affected by the Syrian crisis.

Mikati also said he is eager to attend a donor conference to obtain aid for refugees, adding that it is also important to discuss the social and security aspect of the Syrians’ presence in Lebanon.

“I look forward to the Kuwait donor conference to obtain aid for the Syrian refugees, but it is also important to tackle the security, health, and social affect their presence is having on Lebanon,” he said.

The donor conference is scheduled to be held in Kuwait on Wednesday to address the presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Miakti also met with United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, European Union Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst, and French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli.

 
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