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Politics

Dendias Meets with Lebanese Counterpart Wehbe

ATHENS — "The common denominator in our approach is respect for international law, the promotion of good neighbourly relations and, of course, the peaceful settlement of disputes," Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in a statement following a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Charbel Wehbé on Friday.

"These are the fundamental rules of conduct, which we hope will be followed by all states in our region," Dendias underlined.

"I want to emphasise that our intention is to promote a positive agenda with all the states in our region, something that I particularly emphasised during my visit to Ankara yesterday," he said, adding: "On this basis, we are forming trilateral and multilateral schemes of cooperation that are flexible and open, based on mutual respect and our common values."

Following the trilateral meeting on Thursday between the foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon in Athens, Dendias also met his Lebanese counterpart alone earlier on Friday, with bilateral and EU-Lebanon cooperation, as well as recent regional developments, on the agenda, according to a foreign ministry post on Twitter.

According to Dendias, they had a fruitful exchange of views with Wehbe, while he stressed that, if the pandemic had not intervened, the meeting would have taken place much earlier.

He expressed Greece's full solidarity with Lebanon's efforts to rebuild the country and added: "As in the past, we are now on the side of Lebanese citizens and society. We are ready to provide our support in any way we can."

He noted that Greek companies, which have extensive experience in the Middle East, are ready to join the effort, while he underlined the support of the Greek government to promote Lebanon's relations with the EU.

"At the recent European Council, the prime minister stressed the need for a explicit reference to the fact that the new funding for refugees from Syria will cover not only the refugees in Turkey, but also Lebanon," Dendias said.

During the meeting, all regional developments in the region, as well as Syria and Libya, as well as the prospects for the development of cooperation between the two countries were also discussed.

On his part, the Lebanese foreign minister thanked "the Greek government and the Greek people for their sympathy and solidarity with Lebanon, following the devastating explosion that occurred in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020."

He pointed out that Lebanon is looking forward to the trilateral summit in order to put on the table all the projects and possible areas of cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon and the strengthening of the relations between the three countries.

During his meetings with both Dendias and the Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides, all common issues were discussed at a bilateral and trilateral level, with respect to security, stability, the fight against terrorism, as well as the prevention of and control of the flow of refugees in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"The challenges we face together in the Eastern Mediterranean region are great and may relate to Lebanon's own destiny, so the treatment must be radical and not just a form of 'painkiller'," he said.

"Lebanon hopes for the participation of the United Nations and certainly respects international law, human rights, the Law of the Sea, which we fully implement," he said.

He noted that Lebanon has been hosting more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees and an additional 500,000 Palestinian refugees since 1948.

"This burden that Lebanon bears cannot be compared to any other country in the world, in proportion to its population. It requires an approach involving the entire international community and not just Lebanon on an individual level."

"The closest countries are Cyprus and Greece and we must thank them for their understanding and response," he stressed.

He also referred to the problems and challenges facing his country after the explosion and the economic crisis it is suffering from and noted that "Greece had gone through a similar economic crisis, from which it has emerged, and of course we want to benefit from the Greek experience."

Finally, Wehby congratulated "Greece on the 200th anniversary of the 1821 Revolution against the Ottoman yoke."

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