Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Saad Hariri, leader of the parliamentary majority of Lebanon
7 november 2008
Vladimir Putin: Mr Hariri, I have warm memories of our previous meetings here in Moscow and in Sochi. I am glad to see you in Russia once again. Welcome.
The Italian Prime Minister Mr Berlusconi was on a visit here the day before yesterday and he asked me to give his best wishes to you.
Russia has long-standing good relations with the Arab world and your country. We are glad that the process of normalisation in Lebanon, too, is gathering pace, if only little by little. For all that, we realise that the situation in the region remains complicated. We are ready, as before, to do all we can in the economic sphere and in the sphere of political contacts to normalise the situation and to make sure that it moves in a positive direction.
I am sure that in the present-day conditions - with complicated processes developing in world finances - the contribution of Arab countries to tackling world economic problems can and must be significant. We would very much like to see Lebanon's role as a financial centre in the Middle East and in the world restored as quickly as possible.
Saad Hariri (as translated): Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister. We are always very glad to have meetings with you here in Moscow and in other cities. We want to see Russia play a significant role both in Lebanon and in the whole Arab world.
Lebanon has lived through a fairly complex period; however, due in part to the efforts of our Russian friends, we have been able to overcome that difficult period. A national dialogue was launched after an agreement on armistice in Lebanon was reached in the Qatar capital Doha. The dialogue is proceeding in Lebanon both at the regional level and with international mediation. We are aware that Russia too is following these processes closely.
Even so, the situation in the Middle East remains tense. We would very much like to see Russia as a great power play a significant role in helping to calm down the situation and bring it back to normal. As regards Russian assistance to Lebanon, we very much count on your help in regaining Lebanese sovereignty over the Shebaa Farms.
We would also like to express our appreciation for Russia's support on the issue of the international tribunal and other international decisions which took place with Russia's participation.
As regards your remarks about the global financial crisis, thanks in part to the rather stringent national laws - both with regard to the Central Bank and other banks operating in Lebanon - we have managed to cope with the aftermath of the crisis and prevent a liquidity crunch. In this connection we share your hope that Lebanon will soon regain its role of a regional and international financial centre.