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02:33

Russia: Russia’s presence in Middle East ‘stabilising’ - Lebanese FM *EXCLUSIVE* *PARTNER CONTENT*

Russian Federation, Moscow
March 27, 2019 at 14:18 GMT +00:00 · Published

“Russia's presence in the region does not constitute a threat, but, on the contrary, a calming and stabilizing factor for creating balance in the region and clearing it of terrorism, as well as reducing the degree of Israeli arrogance,” Lebanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil said in an interview on Monday in Moscow.

“I think that there is still a strategic opportunity for cooperation with Russia, I mean in Lebanon and in the entire Arab region, especially in the economic sphere, and not only in the issue of the reconstruction of Syria, but also in the gas issue,” he said, adding that Lebanon would like to attract both Russian and American companies to develop gas deposits on the Lebanese shelf.

Bassil also said that Russian relations with Israel help reduce “Israeli arrogance” and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visits to Russia “can be a positive factor if they help balance the Israelis.”

Lebanese President Michel Aoun came to Moscow on a two-day official visit on Monday accompanied by the foreign minister.

02:33
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“Russia's presence in the region does not constitute a threat, but, on the contrary, a calming and stabilizing factor for creating balance in the region and clearing it of terrorism, as well as reducing the degree of Israeli arrogance,” Lebanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil said in an interview on Monday in Moscow.

“I think that there is still a strategic opportunity for cooperation with Russia, I mean in Lebanon and in the entire Arab region, especially in the economic sphere, and not only in the issue of the reconstruction of Syria, but also in the gas issue,” he said, adding that Lebanon would like to attract both Russian and American companies to develop gas deposits on the Lebanese shelf.

Bassil also said that Russian relations with Israel help reduce “Israeli arrogance” and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visits to Russia “can be a positive factor if they help balance the Israelis.”

Lebanese President Michel Aoun came to Moscow on a two-day official visit on Monday accompanied by the foreign minister.

*NO CUTAWAYS AT SOURCE*

SOT, Gebran Bassil, Lebanon Foreign Minister (Arabic): “All in all, Netanyahu is not able to put pressure on Lebanon using its military; he is not able to defeat Lebanon with all its power. He can’t use allies to beat Lebanon. It is impossible to beat us either in direct battle or with the help of someone.”

SOT, Gebran Bassil, Lebanon Foreign Minister (Arabic): “I believe that it is a question of relations between Lebanon and Russia that should be key in this interview programme, because we want these relations to become strategic. We believe that Russia's presence in the region does not constitute a threat, but, on the contrary, a calming and stabilizing factor for creating balance in the region and clearing it of terrorism, as well as reducing the degree of Israeli arrogance. The fact that relations between Russia and Israel are normal is also good. We have seen how many visits Netanyahu made to Russia. In my opinion, there have been more than 10-11 visits. We believe that these visits can be a positive factor if they help balance the Israelis. I think that there is still a strategic opportunity for cooperation with Russia, I mean in Lebanon and in the entire Arab region, especially in the economic sphere, and not only in the issue of the reconstruction of Syria, but also in the gas issue. For example, I have repeatedly called, and continue to do so, for the creation of an alliance-consortium of Russian and American companies for the development of gas fields on the Lebanese shelf, as well as oil fields in Lebanon. And we regard this as an additional factor in creating balance and establishing stability in Lebanon and the entire region.”

SOT, Gebran Bassil, Lebanon Foreign Minister (Arabic): “Speaking of the arming issue, Lebanon is not able to buy arms. Lebanon receives some help from the USA and, surely, if Russia would like to provide such help to Lebanon, I suppose, Lebanon would not refuse, upon the condition that this help is not backed by something that may affect Lebanon. I suppose in such a case Russia would not give any assistance that could harm Lebanon. Now we are being guided by the interests of Lebanon itself, by what is good for Lebanon. I can confirm one thing for sure: Russia has never asked Lebanon to do anything that can harm Lebanon or its interests yet. This is exactly what the eastern strategic partnership is, what we are heading to, not only with Lebanon, but with the whole region in order to create a common field in politics, pluralism and liberal economy, which, in turn, will surely lead to the prosperity of the region and strengthen ties between the East and other regions of the world.”

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