Syrian FM affirms close ties with Lebanon, discusses immigration issue
Both the Syrian diplomat and his Lebanese counterpart said they agreed refugees must return to their homeland.
Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikdad on Tuesday said that relations between Syria and Lebanon are "close" and that cooperation in various matters of mutual concern is ongoing, SANA reports.
On the sidelines of the preparatory meeting for the Arab Summit that is being held in Jeddah and after talks were held with Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib, Mikdad said that "the meeting was friendly" and displayed close relations between the two countries.
Mikdad further said that during his meeting, "we touched upon matters relating to the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon and coordination between delegations of Syria and Lebanon in the two countries' concerns," noting that "the atmospheres are good."
"We both agreed that Syrian refugees must return to their homeland, and this return requires considerable efforts to be channeled for their return. But whether Western countries encourage them to return or not, Syria welcomes all its people," he said.
"Asylum is a matter of concern than carries burdens, but Syria wants all its refugee children to return to their homeland so that this burden is addressed by the homeland itself, not by others."
Read more: Preparatory meetings for Arab League held in Jeddah, Syria attended
This comes at a time when Caretaker Minister of Justice Henry El-Khoury announced that a Lebanese ministerial and technical delegation would visit Syria to discuss the repatriation of displaced Syrians to Syria.
The matter has sparked widespread controversy with some demanding that they be returned once the situation in Syria has stabilized and others rejecting their return before security "guarantees" are provided.
The number of Syrian refugees residing in Lebanon currently stands at approximately 1.5 million, nearly 900,000 of whom are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and most of them live under difficult living conditions.
It is noteworthy that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received last February a Lebanese ministerial delegation headed by Abdullah Bou Habib.
Al-Assad said during the meeting, "The relationship between Lebanon and Syria is a brotherly relation between two peoples, and this is the basis on which official policies are supposed to be based on serving the common interests of the two peoples and working to meet the challenges they face."
On May 15, Syrian Foreign Minister Mikdad recently landed in King Abdulaziz International Airport as part of a high-level delegation to participate in the preparatory meetings for the Arab Summit, which is scheduled to be held on May 19.
On May 7, the League of Arab States announced Syria's return to the League after suspending its membership in the wake of the 12-year war in the country.
Mikdad, in a press statement following the preparatory meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Jeddah: We work together with our Arab brothers, and all Arabs welcome the Syrian role and there are no differences over issues related to Syria+ pic.twitter.com/IRa8rl0Bxk— Suat Kılıçtaş (@Suatklcts) May 17, 2023
Read more: More than 71mln people internally displaced worldwide in 2022: Reports