In a surprise visit to Beirut that lasted 5 hours, Khaddam and Al-Shahabi met Presidents Hrawi, Hosseini and Karami

publisher: الديار

Publishing date: 1991-05-12


Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam emphasized Syria’s commitment to providing assistance and support to the Lebanese state in order to overcome the crisis and achieve stability. He called on Arab nations to strengthen their support for Lebanon and highlighted that Israel’s withdrawal from the south would contribute to consolidating the authority of the Lebanese state. Khaddam also mentioned that Syria is engaging with several countries to help implement UN resolution 425.

Yesterday afternoon, Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam paid a surprise visit to the temporary presidential headquarters in Ramlet al-Bayda, where he was received by President Elias Hrawi. Accompanying Khaddam were General Hikmat Shihabi, Chief of Staff of the Syrian Arab Army, and Brigadier General Ghazi Kanaan, head of the Security and Reconnaissance Service branch of the Syrian forces in Lebanon. Initially, President Hrawi held a meeting with them, and later, Prime Minister Omar Karami and Speaker of Parliament Hussein Al-Husayni joined the discussions. The visit was conducted under strict security measures enforced by the Lebanese Army and the Syrian Arab Army in the vicinity of the presidential headquarters.

During a luncheon at 1:30, President Hrawi and the delegation discussed the progress in implementing the Taif Agreement.

Upon leaving the presidential headquarters at 5:15, Khaddam made a statement to journalists regarding the visit. He stated that the purpose of the visit was to enhance cooperation and consultation between the two countries. The meeting covered regional contacts and movements, common interests, and exchanged views. Khaddam affirmed Syria’s continuous support and assistance to Lebanon, expressing agreement on the analysis and vision of the situation. He also mentioned that President Hrawi provided an update on the steps taken by the Lebanese government to implement the National Charter, and Syria assured its ongoing support in resolving the crisis.

Regarding the Arab region’s support for the implementation of UN resolution 425, Khaddam emphasized the need for all Arab nations to strengthen their support for Lebanon. He called for increased contacts and efforts that would facilitate the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the south, as it would be a crucial step in consolidating the authority of the Lebanese state. Syria is actively engaged in dialogue with various states, exploring ways to assist Lebanon in achieving the full implementation of resolution 425.

The discussions between Khaddam and the Lebanese officials also touched on the existing relations between the two countries. They exchanged views on contacts and movements, aiming to align their efforts within the framework of these developments. The discussions also addressed the implementation of provisions related to Syrian-Lebanese relations outlined in the National Accord Charter, which was approved by the Parliament.

• In your opinion, what is needed in the Arab region to support the Lebanese demand for the implementation of resolution 425? What can Arabs do?

_ All Arab countries should strengthen their support for the Lebanese state and engage in contacts and efforts that will aid in the implementation of resolution 425 and the achievement of Israeli withdrawal from the south. This withdrawal is a crucial step in reinforcing the process of extending the state’s authority and restoring its full capabilities in Lebanon. As for us, we are currently in contact with several states, exploring ways and means to assist the Lebanese state in fully implementing resolution 425.

• The topic of special relations and the draft project sent to Damascus, was this the subject of discussion?

_ Our discussions consistently revolve around the existing relations between our two countries. These relations have led to dialogues, sharing information with the Lebanese state regarding contacts and movements, and agreeing on the concepts that we can collaboratively work on within the framework of these initiatives. It is natural to say that we have touched upon certain developments related to the implementation of provisions concerning Syrian-Lebanese relations as outlined in the National Accord Charter, which has been approved by the Parliament.

• Are we getting closer to solving the issue of foreign hostages in Lebanon after these recent successes in extending the authority of the Lebanese state?

  • We believe that the circumstances are now more positive. However, there is still a problem as there are hundreds of Lebanese detainees held by Israeli authorities. We have learned from certain sources that the detainees are demanding the release of the Lebanese hostages.

• Did you discuss the expected visit of the Soviet Foreign Minister to Lebanon next Tuesday during the meeting?

  • I briefed President Hrawi on the discussions that took place between the Syrian and Soviet sides during the visit of the Soviet Minister to Damascus. Although we are not aware of the exact topics he will raise, the general direction of the discussions on this subject was clear to both the Lebanese and Syrian sides.

We consider this visit to be significant as it represents another form of international support for the Lebanese state, the national reconciliation process, and a reaffirmation of the progress made in recent months towards Lebanon’s recovery and the promotion of peace in the country.

In response, Prime Minister Karami stated, “This meeting took place today as part of the ongoing consultations between Lebanese and Syrian officials. Various topics were discussed, and there was agreement and consensus on all opinions.”

• Regarding the topic of special relations and the developed project, were there any Syrian comments?

  • Naturally, there was a discussion on some matters related to this subject. It is customary to negotiate and discuss all points when there is an agreement or treaty between two countries. Many points were clarified, and we reached an agreement on all of them.

• Can you provide insight into the focus of the discussions on clarifying many points?

  • It is not permissible to disclose this information until the Council of Ministers has been briefed on the subject.

• Some parties have demanded that the issue of special relations be discussed after the deployment of the army throughout all Lebanese territory. What can you say about this?

  • Everyone is entitled to their opinion in our democratic country. However, as a government, we are committed to implementing the entire Taif Agreement, and we have stated that any clause or waiver of a clause would disrupt the overall process. We firmly believe that regulating the relationship between Lebanon and Syria is essential and necessary. It will contribute to establishing security, stability, and tranquility in all areas. Therefore, discussing this matter is of great interest to both Syria and Lebanon, rather than Syria alone.

• Is the meeting scheduled for Monday still on track?

  • Certainly, we aim to have a final review of this draft, after which it will be presented to the Cabinet.