Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday pressed his country's claim to territory occupied by Israel and told U.S. President George W. Bush the future of Palestinian refugees was in their homeland, not Lebanon.
Suleiman, the former army chief elected president in May, thanked Bush during an Oval Office visit for supporting Lebanon's military institutions and noted Lebanon was working "very hard to combat terror."
"We are also here to reaffirm the need to liberate all Lebanese territories and also to make it very clear that the future of Palestinian refugees is in their homeland, not in Lebanon," Suleiman told Bush, according to Reuters. "We believe that this is in the interest of Lebanon as well as it's in the interest of the Palestinian people themselves," he said.
Bush, in welcoming Suleiman to the White House, said he had carefully monitored the Lebanese leader's statements upon taking office and was impressed. "We're most impressed by the national dialogue that you're holding and attempts to seek reconciliation," Bush said.
"The United States is proud to stand by your side. Our mission is your mission: a country that is strong and capable, and a country where people can live in peace... And so I welcome you. It's been a long time since the President of Lebanon has been in the Oval Office. It is my honor to host you for this occasion," the US leader added.