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Controversy on Exclusion of Lebanese Minister from Brussels III Conference

Controversy on Exclusion of Lebanese Minister from Brussels III Conference

Monday, 11 March, 2019 - 08:30
File photo: Prime Minister Saad Hariri meets with Minister of the Displaced Saleh Al-Gharib on Tuesday (NNA)
Beirut - Caroline Akoum and Khalil Fleihan
Growing differences among Lebanese parties on the fate of Syrian refugees were reflected this week on the delegation representing Lebanon at the Brussels III Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.

A dispute arose on Sunday over the failure to invite Minister of the Displaced Saleh Al-Gharib to Brussels to take part in the conference that is set to start Tuesday.

Lebanon’s delegation is headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who will be traveling to the Belgian capital with Education Minister Akram Chehayeb and Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumjian.

Gharib, who is close to the pro-Syria Lebanese Democratic Gathering party, regretted in a statement efforts made by some politicians to deal with the displaced Syrians in an unfavorable way.

The Minister of the Displaced, who believes that Beirut should coordinate with the Syrian regime to resolve the refugee crisis, visited Damascus last month.

Justice Minister Salim Jraissati rushed on Sunday to Gharib’s defense, saying, “We did not understand why the Minister of the Displaced was excluded from the official delegation heading to Brussels.”

However, Kouyoumjian told Asharq Al-Awsat that the invitations were sent by the European Union and the United Nations. “Lebanon is not involved in this process,” he said.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that European delegates have informed Lebanese politicians about the need to unify their ranks on the Syrian refugee crisis in order to pressure the international community into meeting Lebanon’s demands at the conference.

The event seeks to garner financial support for states that host large numbers of Syrian refugees.

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