French President Emmanuel Macron received today at the Elysee Palace the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri. Hariri arrived at 10:15 (Paris time) and was greeted by the French President Emmanuel Macron. Then they made a joint statement.
President Macron said:
First, I welcome the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. I am very happy to be standing here, above all with a friend in a delicate moment for Lebanon, when he knows that he can count on the commitment of France by his side.
In the continuation of our previous exchanges, we will discuss in a few moments, as we have discussed several times over the phone in recent weeks, my keenness on the security and stability of Lebanon. The exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israel at the border at the end of August raised fears that regional conflicts would spread to Lebanon. I intervened at that moment with everyone to avoid any escalation, in coordination with Mr. Saad Hariri. It remains necessary today for everyone to show the greatest restraint.
I will also tell the President of the Lebanese Council of Ministers that France will remain committed to the security and stability of Lebanon, in the framework of UNIFIL, as well as in the close cooperation that it has launched with the Lebanese army and security forces. We will discuss in particular the operational follow-up that we will give to the commitments we made together in Rome in March 2018 for the supply of equipment to the Lebanese army.
Finally, I would like to say to Mr. Saad Hariri that France is fully committed to implementing the decisions we took at the CEDRE conference in Paris in April 2018.
The aim is to give Lebanon the means for ambitious reforms to ensure that it restores its economic situation with the support of its international partners.
Ten billion euros have been mobilized and I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with the Lebanese government for them to be implemented quickly. I hope that this will enable the Council of Ministers and its President to move forward in projects, like electricity, infrastructure, administrative reform, for the direct benefit of all the Lebanese. We will also discuss the latest developments in the Middle East.
France stands alongside Lebanon to face the heavy consequences of the Syrian crisis. We will continue to provide support concerning the Syrian refugees, with special attention to the needs of the host communities. France will also continue to act to ensure that a lasting solution to the Syrian crisis allows refugees to return to their country. We know that this is the ultimate goal. No one should be naive enough to think that this can be solved in a few weeks and to forget the root causes of these displacements.
On each of these topics, I count on the commitment of Mr Saad Hariri as he can count on mine. And he knows it. I will stand by the side of the President of the Lebanese Council of Ministers and the President of the Lebanese Republic. Together, we are working to ensure that the unwavering friendship between our two countries will enable Lebanon to face its many challenges today. It is in such moments that we know who are the true friends. France is the friend of Lebanon as you know.
Thank you, Mr. President, for your warm welcome. As always, it is an honor and a pleasure.
This is an opportunity for me to thank you, on behalf of all Lebanese, for your role and that of France, in support of the stability and security of Lebanon and its economy.
This support has recently been expressed in the extension of the UNIFIL mandate in Lebanon, and in the efforts made by you personally to stem the escalation after the Israeli attack on Beirut’s southern suburbs unprecedented since 2006.
Lebanon is committed to the implementation of UNSCR 1701, which has maintained calm and stability on our southern border for 13 years.
On the economic level, my Government has embarked on reforms. I will explain to you in more detail, Mr. President, how this effort will be maintained over the coming years. Now we have to launch the investments, and my hope is to convene the CEDRE Strategic Committee in Paris in mid-November.
I have just had an excellent meeting with Minister Bruno Le Maire and French heads of companies, about the investment projects in our infrastructure.
We will surely discuss together the worrisome regional situation and how to protect Lebanon.
For our part, we continue our efforts to strengthen state institutions.
In this context, we exchanged this morning, with your government, the signing of a letter of intent on the acquisition of French equipment to strengthen our defense and security capabilities.
Most of it will be used to equip our naval forces and equip us with maritime air mobility capabilities.
For Lebanon, it is an essential investment in the safety of our offshore oil and gas fields and their exploitation.
France, once again, has shown its support by offering its guarantee for a loan with generous terms of 400 million euros. Thank you, once again, Mr. President!
In a region that has been in flames for almost a decade, Lebanon was a rare source of good news: extremism found no place, stability was assured by an internal political consensus, and our model of coexistence and dialogue proved itself.
Today, with our reforms and the modernization of the economy, administration and infrastructure, I am confident that Lebanon will continue to be a source of good news, even in a difficult region, thanks to the friendship and support of France and your friendship and support, Mr. President.
Thank you, and rest assured of my friendship and gratitude.
Source: National News Agency