President Michel Aoun said Thursday that Lebanon wants to be part of the reconstruction of Syria and emphasized that ties between the two countries were never formally severed.
“Relations with Syria ‘are normalized’ as there are ambassadors in both countries. Therefore, they are not severed. And Lebanon wants to be part of its reconstruction,” Aoun told Russian media, according to a statement from his office.
While the countries never cut diplomatic ties, a sharp division exists within Lebanese political circles over the country’s relationship with Syria.
“The relationship with Syria is historic and we are working on enhancing it in all fields,” Aoun told Russian media.
The president is set to be in Moscow March 25-26 to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials, when he is expected to raise the issue of refugee returns.
Russia announced a plan in July to facilitate the return to Syria of refugees from the region and Europe. Members of a joint committee to coordinate returns with representatives of Russia and the Lebanese government were appointed in September, but little progress has been made.
The Daily Star