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Russia is trying to help Lebanon overcome its crisis
Russia is trying to help Lebanon overcome its crisis, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting with Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party of Lebanon. "We highly value this possibility to discuss all problems and help find a way out of the crisis that would not destabilize Lebanon or the region," the Russian minister said. He stressed that Moscow "is outraged at and shocked by" the latest terrorist attack in which Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed. "Mr. Hariri did much to ensure stable development in Lebanon and the region," he said. "He worked for the restoration of full state sovereignty of Lebanon, so that Lebanon would live befittingly and at peace with its neighbors. Russia is trying to help it to attain this goal during contacts with Lebanese representatives, the leadership of Syria, and spokesmen of the US and European and Middle East countries." According to the Russian minister, the situation in Lebanon and around Syria has come "to the forefront of global politics." Mr. Jumblatt pointed out that the current goal of the Lebanese leadership is to ensure stability in the region, the freedom and sovereignty of Lebanon, and good relations with neighbors, above all Syria. After the meeting with the Lebanese guest, Sergei Lavrov said when answering journalists' questions that the Lebanese authorities should collaborate with the UN mission in the investigation of the murder of Rafik Hariri, adding that they can also undertake their own investigation of the crime. "We hope that these two processes will bring us close to the truth," Mr. Lavrov said. "It goes without saying that any investigation must be transparent." The withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon should proceed in stages, so as not to destabilize the situation, the minister believes. "We agree that the troops should be pulled out in stages and in a manner that would not destabilize the fragile situation, including in terms of ethnic and religious relations, in Lebanon," he said. Russia does not regard as justified the attempts at external interference in the Syrian-Lebanese settlement, the foreign minister said. "We do not think it justified to fan tensions around this problem and to attempt to simultaneously fulfill tasks that are not directly connected with the settlement," Mr. Lavrov said. The Russian minister thinks that the parliamentary election in Lebanon should be held democratically and without outside interference, allowing the Lebanese people to express their will
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