French President Vows Support for Lebanon During Visit

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 7:47 PM

Hollande said Paris will give immediate assistance to boost Lebanon'south capabilities in fighting terrorism, adding that the defense ministers from the two countries will discuss the details.

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday his country will stand by Lebanon to boost security in the tiny Arab country that's "surrounded by crisis and wars" and urged the parliament to the chosen a new president whose post has been unoccupied for nearly two years.

Hollande said Paris will give immediate assistance to boost Lebanon'south capabilities in fighting terrorism, adding that the defense ministers from the two countries will discuss the details.

Holland'south visit to Lebanon is the start of a regional tour that'll get him to Egypt and Jordan. During his two-day visit to Lebanon, the French president is scheduled to meet senior executive and visit a grouping of Syrian refugees in the country'south eastern Bekaa Valley.

Lebanon is residence to more than a million registered Syrian refugees, the equivalent of a quarter the country'south pop of 4.5 million. Another half a million Syrians live in the country as well.

An official ceremony was held exterior the parliament building in downtown Beirut where Hollande received a ruddy carpet welcome. Generally heads of state are welcomed by the president but the post in Lebanon has been vacant since May two thousand fourteen when the duration of President Michel Suleiman ended.

"Lebanon is hosting more than 1.5 million refugees and therefore we've to give Lebanon solidarity and assistance," Hollande said after meeting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, adding that Paris will give assistance worth fifty million euros ($56.4 million) in two thousand-sixteenth and one hundred million euros ($112.8 million) in the coming years.

He later met Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail in Beirut.

"France stands by you and France is concerned that security is boosted in Lebanon through military cooperation," Hollande said.

"We're with you because Lebanon is surrounded by crisis and wars ... Lebanon that knows the war on its border also knows the threat of terrorism," Hollande said referring to Syria'south civil war that's spilled over into Lebanon on several occasions.

Lebanon and France have also been struck by attacks from the extremist Islamic State group. A day before the Nov. thirteen attacks in Paris that that killed one hundred thirty people, two suicide attackers struck in Beirut killing nearly fifty people and wounding many others.

"The security of Lebanon is the security of France," Hollande said adding that the attacks on the two countries' shows solidarity between them.

Hollande urged Lebanese politicians to the chosen a new president saying "I wish to arrive back to Lebanon to meet the president. I don't have a solution for that but the reply is with you, the Lebanese legislators."

More than thirty parliament sessions have failed to the chosen a new president amid divisions between the country'south political groups.

The militant Hezbollah grouping issued a statement saying they'll not meet with Hollande during his visit. Hezbollah, which is Lebanon'south most powerful group, has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to back President Bashar Assad.

France, the onetime colonial ruler of both Syria and Lebanon, has been one of the most outspoken Western critics of Assad. In two thousand-thirteenth, the European Union named the military wing of Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

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