Russia to boost capacities of Lebanese Army: Lavrov

Russia to boost capacities of Lebanese Army: Lavrov
Fri Apr 25, 2014 08:01:07

Russia will work to boost the capacities of the Lebanese Army, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says.

“Russia will enhance military cooperation with Lebanon, mainly by reinforcing the defense capabilities of the Lebanese Army and security forces,” the Daily Star quoted Lavrov as saying during a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil in Moscow on Thursday.

“We will present our contributions to the international community in the plan to reinforce the Lebanese Army and the state institutions,” he said, in reference to the plan by the International Support Group for Lebanon.

Lavrov also said Russia would not interfere in the Lebanese presidential election.

“The presidential election is a Lebanese affair... Russia does not have any preferences concerning the presidential election,” he said. “We are looking forward to the presidential election."

"Electing a new president could unite the Lebanese society," he added.

He said that “Lebanon is a complicated country and the constitution should be respected by everyone,” adding his country will coordinate with anyone elected as new head of state.

For his part, Bassil said Russia can play a prominent role in contributing to political stability in Lebanon and the Middle East.

He also said that Lebanese and Russia should cooperate regarding Lebanon's oil resources and the Syrian refugees’ crisis. Lavrov proposed a “systematic solution” for the refugee issue rather than “temporary humanitarian assistance.”

Bassil, a former energy minister, said Russia should take part in oil and gas exploration in the seabed off Lebanon's coast.

The foreign minister left Beirut Wednesday heading to Moscow on a two-day official visit to hold talks with Russian officials on bilateral ties and Russia’s role in the region.