Russia to help peacemaking in Lebanon

Russia has pledged its support to an international probe into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. President Vladimir Putin has also expressed concern over the political instability in Beirut.

The comments came as Mr Putin met Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora at the Kremlin. Russia’s president described the situation in Beirut as “disturbing,” and pledged to continue its support of Lebanon.

The Lebanese guest called Russia a “partner and close friend of Lebanon,” and thanked Russia for its ongoing efforts to settle conflicts in the Middle East.

Speaking after his meeting with Putin, Prime Minister Siniora thanked the Russian President for his pledge of continued support. “This was a wonderful chance for us to meet personally with President Putin where in a very open and straight manner he spoke about Russia’s support for the official government in Lebanon, Russia’s efforts to bring Lebanon in to contact with the outside world and to recover from the aftermath of events in Lebanon to ensure the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon,” he said.

Prime Minister Siniora has also voiced hope that Russia can help repair relations between Lebanon and Syria. In his interview to Russia Today he thanked Russia for its continued assistance to Lebanon.

“I would like to thank President Putin for what has been done over the last period, in particular during the war that was raised against Lebanon,” he stated.

Mr Siniora said the main issue was maintaining stability in Lebanon. He hopes that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia can exercise certain pressure on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories and stop its overflights.

Israel has been occupying certain Lebanese regions since 1965. We intend to discuss how Russia can really help in solving this long-standing dispute over the occupied territories,” he added. “Another issue is the overall situation in Lebanon and particularly the economic situation, which has been deteriorating due to over 30 years of wars and invasions Lebanon has suffered from.” 

Mr Siniora stressed the importance of Russia’s role at an international conference on Lebanon due to be held in January 2007 in Paris.