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Lebanon Awaits Pompeo’s Visit, Aoun’s Moscow Trip, Arab Summit

Lebanon Awaits Pompeo’s Visit, Aoun’s Moscow Trip, Arab Summit

Tuesday, 19 March, 2019 - 07:15
FILE PHOTO: Lebanese President Michel Aoun talks on the eve of the country's 75th independence day at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS
Beirut - Khalil Fleihan
Lebanese officials are counting on three important events during the upcoming days: the first in Beirut on March 22, where they will meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the second in Moscow during a Lebanese-Russian summit on March 26, and the Arab summit at the end of the month.

Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the refugees' issue will top the priorities of President Michel Aoun, who will try to convince Pompeo of the importance of US support for Lebanon’s official position on the need to guarantee the return of a large number of displaced Syrians to their country, according to a systematic program and a timetable with the identification of means of transport.

The sources added that Aoun’s talks would be easier with President Vladimir Putin, “who understands Lebanon’s sufferings and also believes that the continued presence of Syrian refugees in huge numbers in Lebanon and other neighboring countries would mean dividing Syria. This is rejected by Moscow.”

Aoun and Putin will discuss means to boost Lebanon’s initiative, the sources emphasized, adding that the Lebanese president was hoping to find more practical measures to repatriate the displaced.

At the Arab Summit on March 30, Aoun will deliver Lebanon’s message on the need for major and influential countries to assume their responsibilities and support Lebanon in setting up a practical plan to guarantee a quick return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, without awaiting a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

The president will also stress that his country could no longer bear the burdens resulting from the massive presence of refugees at the financial, economic, educational, health and demographic levels, according to the sources who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The US Secretary of State will arrive in Beirut on Thursday and will meet with Lebanese officials the following day. The visit ends with a dinner hosted by former minister and MP Nayla Mouawad and her son Michel.

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