President Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, colleagues,
First of all, I would like to welcome you to Russia, to Moscow.
Russia and Lebanon have always been bound by close bonds of friendship. It was with great concern that we followed the events unfolding during the conflict that broke out between Israel and Lebanon. We are equally concerned about the serious internal political situation your country currently faces. We hope that our Lebanese friends, aware of their responsibility to the Lebanese people, will succeed in resolving all of these internal problems. For our part, Mr Prime Minister, we will do all we can to support the people of Lebanon in rebuilding their economy and infrastructure and in developing normal economic ties between our countries.
We are happy to see such a high-level Lebanese delegation in Moscow.
Prime Minister of Lebanon Fouad Siniora: Mr President, on behalf of myself and my delegation I would like to thank you for the opportunity to make this visit and meet with you. I would also like to say some positive words about the good relations that have bound the Russian Federation and Lebanon for a good number of decades now. And, on behalf of the Lebanese people, I would like to express our gratitude for the help that Russia has provided and is providing now, economic and humanitarian assistance and help in rebuilding our country. I would also like to thank you for everything you did to rectify the situation resulting from the latest Israeli attack and to enable the adoption of resolution 1701. And I would like to note Russia’s recent efforts to rebuild the bridges that connect the different parts of Lebanon. I would furthermore like to thank you for the readiness you expressed to support Lebanon both economically and politically.
We are proud of your initiatives and we thank you for everything you are doing.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. The battalion’s commander told me just now how warm a welcome our military servicemen received from the local population. You know that the unit that went to your country was multiethnic in its makeup. Security for the unit was organised by a Russian Armed Forces group composed entirely of residents of Chechnya. The fact that all the servicemen in this security unit were Muslim also made a contribution to establishing very friendly relations on the ground.
Fouad Siniora: When I visited the Mufti of Moscow this morning, he told me about this.
Vladimir Putin: The battalion’s commander said that the local population was very friendly towards all of our servicemen no matter what their religion. The relations between the ordinary people in our respective countries are the best foundation on which to build and develop our intergovernmental ties.