Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil welcomed this Friday the British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Andrew Murrison, in the presence of British Ambassador Chris Rampling.

In the wake of the meeting, Murrison delivered the following statement:

‘It’s great to be in Lebanon, my first visit to this beautiful country.

I come here at challenging times for Lebanon and the region, to reiterate the UKs continued commitment and support to Lebanon. Many of my conversations during this trip will focus on the UK’s support for a strong, stable and prosperous Lebanon.

The UK and Lebanon’s longstanding partnership is growing by the day. Just last month the UK and Lebanon signed the Association Agreement in London, strengthening both our countries’ bilateral trade and investment ties, building on the $800 million of business we already do together. This was followed by a visit from the PM’s Trade Envoy to Lebanon Lord Risby last week reflecting strong commitments from both our countries, as the UK gets ready to leave the EU. The UK continues to support the Government of Lebanon’s programme and CEDRE. But economic reform is urgent and essential so that Lebanon can fulfil its potential. Time is pressing.

My conversations will also focus on the large number of refugees Lebanon hosts. Our policy is clear: we want Syrians to return home, and for these returns to be sustainable they have to be consistent with international law which sets clear standards including the prohibition of refoulement. But, at the moment, it is the Syrian Regime which is preventing returns from happening.

I have seen for myself the generosity of the Lebanese people who continue to host large numbers of refugees. We are here to support Lebanese who are shouldering this burden, as well as refugees. UK aid is supporting the most vulnerable host communities through our local and international partners to deliver humanitarian, education, economic, and other programmes. And I’m pleased to announce over $41 million of new money towards Lebanese host communities and refugees alike.

His Excellency Minister Bassil and I also discussed the recent worrying confrontation with Israel. Our position is very clear we fully support UN Resolutions 1559 and 1701 and condemn any and all violations. Lebanese law is also very clear the Lebanese Armed Forces are the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon and we will continue to support them and other Lebanese security agencies. For any non-state actor to possess military weapons is both illegal under Lebanese and international law. It undermines the security and stability of the Lebanese state, which is already under pressure at this time.

As I told the Minister, I am very much enjoying my first visit to Lebanon and I look forward to the next one’.

On a different note, Bassil met with UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rose Marie de Carlo and discussed the situation on the border in southern Lebanon, the implementation of resolution 1701 and the repercussions of the military operation in northern Syria on Lebanon.

Bassil also tackled the situation in Lebanon and the region with US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard.

Source: National News Agency

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil welcomed this Friday the British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Andrew Murrison, in the presence of British Ambassador Chris Rampling. In the wake of the meeting, Murrison delivered the following statement:'It's great to be in Lebanon, my...