BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed on Friday Lebanon’s commitment to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701 while slamming Israeli violations following talks with French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris.
“As a Lebanese state we are implementing what was mentioned in the resolution since in the past weeks, the Lebanese state in cooperation with the United Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) discovered some explosives, which prove that the state is assuming its responsibilities,” Hariri said.
The prime minister added that Sarkozy was “honest and clear with regard to taking sides with Lebanon.”
“However, the problem is Israel, which does not commit to Resolution 1701 and violates at in every step,” Hariri added.
“[Sarkozy] is concerned with a just peace for Lebanon, Syria, Palestinian and the Arab region,” Hariri added as he voiced support for a Middle East peace conference to be held in France.
Asked whether Paris provided him with any guarantee to enable Lebanon to face future challenges and threats, Hariri stressed his host’s determination to push forward in setting up a peace conference.
“They [French officials] know that keeping the situation in the region unchanged is unacceptable and several step should be taken, steps that France would undertake to guarantee peace,” the premier added.
Tackling French support for Lebanon, Hariri said Sarkozy expressed his willingness to assist the Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces at all levels, whether this involves transferring either light or heavy military equipment.
On another note, Hariri said France would continue to play a pivotal role concerning Lebanese-Syrian bilateral ties, a role that facilitated the establishment of embassies in both countries last year.
“Our concern is that the [Lebanese-Syrian] relationship benefits both states and their peoples,” Hariri added.
Earlier Friday, Hariri told an audience at the headquarters of the French Business Association that he looked for French-Lebanese cooperation on economic and social levels rather than only diplomatic and political channels.
“Many of you know that the past several years were very difficult for Lebanon but our economy surpassed many of the political and security challenges as well as overcoming the global financial crisis and achieving seven percent economic growth,” Hariri said.
Hariri added that he was determined to modernize infrastructure, telecommunication, energy, transportation and environment sectors, which are part of the Cabinet’s top priority.
The Lebanese premier also called on businessmen to invest in Lebanon while stressing that the cabinet would guarantee the private sector an encouraging environment to secure continuous growth.
For her part, head of the French Business Association Laurence Barizo stressed the importance of trade between Lebanon and France as well as the importance of economic growth in preserving peace and promoting ties between both countries’ people.
“What attracted our attention is Lebanon’s capability to face the latest financial crisis since the country proved resilient due to the strength of its financial sector without which there is no room for financial growth,” Barizo said.
Barizo also stressed the need for cooperation when it comes to the implementation of reforms in the telecommunication and energy sectors, while highlighting France’s advances in water management and alternative energy sectors.