Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said that the country would not wait for a political solution in Syria to resolve the problem of displaced Syrians, stressing that Lebanon should defend the nation’s interest.
“It is essential that Lebanon’s position on the refugee issue be unified, especially with regard to realizing that the consequences of this issue will fall on Lebanon and they entail many security, political and socio-economic risks,” Aoun said during a cabinet session he chaired at Baabda Palace on Friday.
According to a statement read by Information Minister Melhem Riachi, Aoun said. “We will not wait for a political solution or a security solution for the Syrian crisis. We are duty-bound to defend the interests of our nation."
The president met this week with representatives of the European Union, the Arab League and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Beirut. He told the international envoys he wanted to find ways for the refugees to return safely.
During Friday's session, the cabinet appointed boards of directors for six state hospitals.
In his briefing, Riachi said that Prime Minister Saad Hariri also spoke about the refugee crisis.
The issue of refugees “is causing socio-economic, political and security consequences on the Lebanese situation,” Hariri said. “But we should deal with this burden in a way that we preserve Lebanon’s interests.”
He added that a ministerial committee tasked with pursuing the refugee crisis would meet next week to examine a working paper prepared by the interior and foreign ministries before presenting it to the government.
During the session, both Aoun and Hariri lauded parliament’s adoption of the 2017 state budget. The president also called for a swift approval of the draft 2018 budget.