Mikati meets Spanish PM and European Council President in Jordan

Outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Nagib Mikati met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and European Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center in Jordan.

Mikati arrived in Jordan on Monday on an official visit to participate in the Emergency Humanitarian Response to Gaza conference. The conference, announced by Jordan in late May, aims to strengthen the international community’s response to the humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged Gaza Strip, which has been devastated by eight months of relentless war. The conference is co-hosted by King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

During the meeting, Sanchez stressed that “his country supports Lebanon in managing the Syrian displaced persons crisis and the repercussions of these displacements, and he promised to convey Lebanon’s reality and position at the European Union level.”

The President of the European Council also affirmed his “understanding of the Lebanese position on the issue of displaced Syrians in Lebanon”, noting that “European leaders are aware of the pressures that this issue is putting on Lebanon and believe that the path to resolving this dilemma will accelerate after the European elections”.

Anti-Syrian sentiment has increased in Lebanon since the assassination in early April of Pascal Sleiman, a leader of the Lebanese Forces, for which Syrian suspects have been arrested. There are 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the highest number of refugees per capita in the world.

Since April, the Lebanese authorities have launched a series of measures aimed at restricting the presence of Syrians in the country and have advocated for their expulsion. In addition to being forcibly evicted from their homes, Syrians in Lebanon face violence from self-defense groups on the streets and the threat of being returned to Syria, where, as international humanitarian organizations report, people are often detained, kidnapped or forcibly conscripted into the army.

The security situation in South Lebanon

During the meeting, Mr. Mikati thanked his Spanish counterpart for his “continued support to Lebanon in all areas, in particular through Spain’s active participation in the United Nations Interim Force.” He also renewed his congratulations to Mr. Sanchez for Spain’s decision to “officially recognize the Palestinian State following its vote at the United Nations in favor of full membership of the State of Palestine.” The President of the European Council also considered that “the launch of the ceasefire process in Gaza will reflect a de facto calm in southern Lebanon.”

The war in Gaza has killed at least 37,124 Palestinians, mostly civilians, since October 7, 2023, according to Hamas’s Health Ministry. Hezbollah and Israel have also been engaged in deadly fighting along Lebanon’s southern border since October 8, which has left nearly 450 people dead in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters, and displaced more than 93,000 residents of the country’s south.

Also present on Tuesday were Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albarez, outgoing Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, and outgoing Environment Minister Nasser Yassin.

In response to the Lebanese Environment Minister’s request, the Spanish Prime Minister expressed his willingness to support Lebanon with special expertise, establishing an environmental police force, protecting forests and reserves, and sharing Spain’s experience in this area.

Wildfires are a recurring problem in Lebanon, particularly during the hot and dry summer months. While the causes of the latest fires are not always clear, the combination of drought and high temperatures creates ideal conditions for their rapid spread. Environmental and climatic pressures contribute to the increase in the frequency and severity of these fires in Lebanon.

This article is originally published on .lorientlejour.com

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