The need to strengthen bilateral relations with Iraq to respond to the threat of terrorism and to jumpstart economic recovery was at the heart of talks between President Michel Aoun Tuesday and Iraqi officials.
Following a joint news conference Tuesday evening with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad, the president’s official Twitter account quoted Aoun as saying that “prospects are promising between Lebanon and Iraq to develop plans of cooperation and agreements that serve the interests of the two countries,” especially given they “experienced similar circumstances [with regards to] security, economic and political challenges.”
“Today, Iraq has set off on the road to recovery and Lebanon has succeeded in consolidating the foundations of the state,” Aoun tweeted.
“We stressed the importance of exchanging information and expertise related to the fight against terrorism and the necessity of making united international efforts in this fight. Joint international action should be combined with an approach that puts an end to the threats of terrorism and addresses the causes of this heinous phenomenon,” he said.
He added that discussions had taken place on the weakness of “the entire Arab world” as a result of ongoing conflicts.
“We stressed the need to return to a state of cohesion between the Arab people ... while maintaining the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states,” his tweets said.
Earlier in the day, Aoun and his Iraqi counterpart Fouad Massoum held talks focusing on counterterrorism efforts.
“I salute the Iraqi people for their steadfastness, patience and the strength of their determination in confronting troubles,” Aoun said.
“In Lebanon, we suffered from a similar dark force that was [on] the eastern border. The decision was to confront them and we triumphed,” he said, referring to ISIS presence on Lebanon’s northeastern border before being ousted during the Fajr al-Joroud offensive which began in Aug. 2017.
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The mood of the talks was lightened by a cake decorated with Lebanese and Iraqi flags, which was presented to Aoun by Massoum after the lunch held in the Lebanese president’s honor. The gift was intended to mark Aoun’s 83rd birthday Sunday.
Upon his arrival in Baghdad, Aoun was received by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and was also scheduled to meet with Iraqi Speaker Salim al-Jabouri.
The Lebanese delegation will leave Baghdad for Yerevan Wednesday for talks with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Speaker Ara Babloyan and Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan.
Aoun is accompanied in his official visit by the ministers of industry, the interior and tourism – Hussein Hajj Hasan, Nouhad Machnouk and Avedis Guidanian, as well as the Minister of State for Combating Corruption Nicolas Tueni, along with MP Hagop Pakradounian.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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