President Michel Aoun left Lebanon for Russia Monday morning, where he will meet with President Vladimir Putin to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis.
The president departed from Beirut at 9:30 a.m., accompanied by his daughter and adviser Mireille Aoun-Hachem and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, a statement from the presidency said. They will be received in Moscow by Lebanese Ambassador to Russia Shawki Bou Nassar.
Earlier this month Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin told reporters that the visit would be “an important stop to [developing] the Russian-Lebanese cooperation on all levels.”
In July, Moscow had announced a plan to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to their home country from the MIddle East, North Africa and Europe. Many Lebanese officials welcomed the proposal, which included the return of a possible 890,000 Syrian refugees from Lebanon.
However, it has remained on hold as other political have questioned Russia’s intentions in assisting with the return of refugees. Questions have been raised about the the initiative’s funding and the prospects of cooperation among the international community to make it work.
Aoun’s visit follows a series of official trips to Russia by Lebanese politicians, including MPs and an adviser to Prime Minister Saad Hariri, raising concerns among some Western powers that Russia is looking to cement its role in the country as it had done in Syria.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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