15 november 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri

During his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Vladimir Putin emphasised that both countries have good opportunities for expanding trade and economic partnership, primarily through major joint projects. According to Mr Putin, the two countries have concrete plans in almost all fields, and large Russian companies have already announced their intentions to bid on a number of projects.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, I'm very pleased to see you. This is your first visit to Russia as the head of government. We are very glad to see you. Welcome to Moscow!

Russia and Lebanon have been friends for very many years. We are content with the development of bilateral relations. We are very pleased that you succeeded in taking vigorous steps to develop the economy and create an atmosphere of inter-denominational peace in Lebanon. Our bilateral relations are maintained at the highest level – recently we had the pleasure of receiving the Lebanese president.

I'm confident that during your visit we will take serious, specific steps to developing interstate relations. The following documents are expected to be signed – two agreements on cooperation between Russia's Prosecutor General's Office and the Lebanese Ministry of Justice, and an agreement on cultural cooperation.

Unfortunately, our trade declined by a massive 25% during the past year. But it has already increased by one third during the first nine months of this year. By and large, we have every reason to hope that we will soon reach the pre-crisis level. However, in absolute terms, our trade is still very small.

Meanwhile, we have good opportunities for expanding our trade and economic partnership, primarily by implementing major projects in energy, transport, communications, and military-technical support. Our two countries have concrete plans in almost all fields, and large Russian companies have already announced their intentions to bid on numerous projects. We will discuss this today and will ask you to support Russian applications for various projects in Lebanon. Welcome to Moscow once again!

Saad Hariri (as translated): Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. I'm grateful for the hospitality that we are always accorded in your country, and I'm very happy about our personal relations.

The late Rafik Hariri started developing relations; our trade was growing, and our economies were becoming more and more open with each other. We continue to adhere to this policy. This is particularly important considering that our political relations are at a very high level. Of course, we'd like our trade to be much bigger than it is now.

As I've already said, our political relations stand out for their high level of development and trust. We welcome the advent of any Russian companies to the Lebanese market in such fields as transport, energy, and the construction of dams and railways.

Cooperation in the military-technical sphere, security, and the training of security personnel is also playing a major role in our relations.

Needless to say, it is very important for us to exchange opinion on the regional situation and the development of a peace process that is now in crisis.

Regrettably, Israel continues its intractable policy. We hope that this policy will be rescinded. Regrettably, extremist attitudes are growing in the region. The way out is as follows: Israel must accept the Madrid principles of settlement and the Arab peace initiative announced in Beirut by the King of Saudi Arabia.

We do know what an important role Russia is playing in the region. It occupies a historically correct and fair position on the Palestinian issue, and the Arab cause in general by advocating a just settlement. In this context, the Russian position is correct across the board, and this is exactly why we want Russia to play an even bigger role in the Middle East. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.