Lebanese former President Michel Aoun paid a visit to the Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday, his first in 14 years.
He was received by President Bashar al-Assad, who stressed that “Lebanon’s strength lies in its political and economic stability.”
The Lebanese people are capable of achieving this stability through dialogue and consensus, he remarked.
Aoun’s visit is significant in wake of the months-long presidential vacuum in Lebanon.
Head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil, who is also Aoun’s son-in-law, recently endorsed the opposition in naming former minister Jihad Azour as presidential candidate.
The bid pits the opposition and the FPM, which was founded by Aoun, against the Shiite duo of Hezbollah and Amal. The duo is backing the nomination of Marada movement leader Suleiman Franjieh, who enjoys close ties with Assad.
Assad expressed to Aoun his faith in the Lebanese people’s ability to overcome all problems and challenges and consolidate the role of their national and constitutional institutions.
Most importantly, they must adhere to principles and avoid banking on changes, he suggested.
Moreover, Assad said Lebanon and Syria must not approach their challenges separately, hailing the recent rapprochement between Arab countries and noting that the Jeddah Summit will leave a positive impact on both nations.
The Arab League summit last month witnessed the reinstatement of Syria’s membership in the organization.
For his part, Aoun said the Lebanese people are “clinging on to their national unity in spite of everything”.
“Syria managed to overcome a difficult and dangerous phase due to the awareness of its people and faith in their country, army and leadership,” he added.
“Syria’s prosperity will reflect positively on Lebanon and the Lebanese people,” he said.