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Lebanon’s Aoun to Discuss Syrian Refugees, Energy in Moscow

Lebanon’s Aoun to Discuss Syrian Refugees, Energy in Moscow

Wednesday, 6 March, 2019 - 07:45
Aoun met Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin on Tuesday (NNA)
Beirut - Khalil Fleihan
Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s official visit to Moscow on March 25 is set to focus on the burden of Syrian refugees and energy cooperation, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.

The sources said Aoun, who is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip, met on Tuesday with Moscow's Ambassador to Beirut Alexander Zasypkin.

The Lebanese president hopes to find a permanent solution to Syrian refugees through their return home under a potential agreement with Putin on a mechanism that would set a timetable with a specific funding.

Aoun’s discussions in Moscow would also tackle cooperation on energy, the sources said.

A Russian company has been tasked with gas exploration off Lebanon, as part of an unprecedented deal between Moscow and Beirut.

Aoun is set to ask for Putin’s support in protecting Lebanon’s exploration rights in Block 9, which has potential oil and gas reserves, and to stop Israel from benefiting from the undersea reserves in the contentious block.

Zasypkin visited Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Monday.

Foreign Ministry sources said Bassil informed the diplomat that Beirut is keen on the Russian initiative to help repatriate Syrian refugees under a set timetable and the means to transport them.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Syrian regime would be bound to accept the result of the Putin-Aoun talks.

The Lebanese President is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on March 25 but would meet his Russian counterpart the next day.

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