Lebanese President Aoun Meets Counterpart Putin In Moscow
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, where the two discussed ways to repatriate about one million Syrian refugees currently living in Lebanon. The two emphasized the need to “resolve [the Syrian] dispute through political and diplomatic means,” which they said would be dependent on “creating favorable conditions in Syria, including social and economic conditions, through post-conflict reconstruction.” They also slammed US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over parts of the Golan Heights captured from Syria in the 1967 war. Jerusalem formally annexed the territory in 1981 in a move uniformly rejected by the international community. Aoun was accompanied on his trip by Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who last Friday held meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Beirut. The top US diplomat slammed Hizbullah – an Aoun ally – and its subservience to Iran, while stressing that “the Lebanese people face a choice: bravely move forward as an independent and proud nation or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hizbullah to dictate your future.” Some analysts believe that Russia is attempting to supplant American influence in Lebanon after becoming the de facto power broker in neighboring Syria.