Preparations have started for the three international conferences scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2018 in Paris, Rome and Brussels to rally support for Lebanon at the economic, security and political levels, and to prepare for the return of the Syrian refugees, which will alleviate the burdens carried by the country over the past seven years.
Meetings between European officials and their Lebanese counterparts are currently taking place to discuss the details of these conferences, although no final dates have yet been set.
On Wednesday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun met with France’s representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Ambassador Pierre Duquesne, with whom he discussed preparations for the Paris 4 conference.
In earlier remarks, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that the conference would be held in March, pointing out that it would focus on investments to support Lebanon’s economy and infrastructure.
In parallel, Defense Minister Yacoub Sarraf met with Italy’s Ambassador to Lebanon Massimo Marotti to discuss preparations for the International Conference in Support of the Lebanese Armed Forces in Rome, which will be called "Rome 2".
In addition to the Paris 4 and Rome 2 conferences, a conference will be held in Brussels, most likely in April, to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis.
France, according to its foreign minister, expects the conference to be "an opportunity to show progress in the safe return of displaced Syrians to their country and in a way that preserves their dignity."
Presidential sources said that the preparations for the Paris 4 conference have begun a while ago, pointing out that an official of the French President’s team met on Wednesday with Aoun to discuss the preparations for the conference, which would be centered on investments and economic support for Lebanon.
The first conference in support for Lebanon's political, security and economic stability after the recent political crisis, took place earlier in December in Paris. The international support group for Lebanon, chaired by the United Nations and France, underlined the “need to protect Lebanon from crises that destabilize the Middle East.”