Lebanon calls for more support in dealing with Syrian refugee crisis

Prime minister Saad Hariri has called for more aid from the international community

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, right, and Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri attend a press conference in Paris, Friday Dec. 8, 2017. It is the first major gathering of key nations to discuss Lebanon's future since a crisis erupted following Hariri's shock resignation last month while in Saudi Arabia. Hariri has since rescinded his resignation. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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Lebanon’s prime minister Saad Hariri has called for more support from the international community to help his country weather the Syrian refugee crisis.

Mr Hariri spoke on Friday at an international meeting in Paris called to show support for Lebanon and its economy after political turmoil prompted by his brief resignation last month.

France's president Emmanuel Macron voiced his support for Lebanon, saying the international community must "stay mobilized" for Lebanon's peaceful future.

Mr Macron said that support is the "best rampart against instability" and that the world must do more to support security, but also to provide humanitarian and economic support. He said that Lebanon is "fragile but essential."

The French president also said he wants to emphasize "in the strongest terms" that the region's problems won't be solved unilaterally or by imposition of might. He says the region can only return to balance if it upholds pluralism. He says Lebanon is a model for that.

The meeting was attended by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson. He said he thought developments in Lebanon have proceeded in a "very positive way." 

"Perhaps even more positive than before," he said, "because there have been very strong statements of affirmation for Lebanon, which will only be helpful."

After the meeting, Mr Hariri said Lebanon "is paying a very big price on behalf of the entire world" when it comes to the refugee crisis, which he said has cost the Lebanese economy more than $20 billion since the Syrian conflict began six years ago.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, hosting the conference, said Brussels will host a conference to find ways to help Lebanon handle the refugees.

Mr Le Drian and Mr Hariri both also warned Lebanese political parties not to interfere in other regional conflicts.

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