Lebanon to rely on Russian strategy for return of Syrian Refugees – Minister

Lebanese State Minister of the Displaced Saleh Gharib, said on Wednesday that Lebanon will rely mainly on the Russian strategy for the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.

“The Russian strategy will be adopted as a basis for our approach towards the return of Syrian refugees to Syria,’’ Gharib told Xinhua.

The strategy, drafted by the Russian Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came after a meeting in Helsinki, Finland between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in 2018.

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The Russian strategy specifies around 76 residential locations in Syria’s Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and Hama to enable the return of 360,000 Syrian refugees as a first step.

The strategy also entails the rehabilitation of houses in the mentioned areas that would allow the return of 500,000 more Syrian refugees within two years.

Gharib did not deny the possibility of visiting Syria or conducting a direct dialogue with the Syrian regime to secure the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.

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“Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is very highly aware of the sensitivity of this issue and any step we will be doing in this regard,’’ Gharib told Xinhua.

According to local news agency Lebanon Debate, Gharib said a day earlier that he will be coordinating with Hariri over any possible visit to Syria.

Meanwhile, Gharib was also quoted as saying by the online independent newspaper Elnashra on Wednesday that the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland cannot take place without a direct dialogue with the Syrian regime.

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“We will not spare any efforts to get in contact with all the concerned parties in a bid to solve this issue and put an end to it,’’ Gharib said.

Xinhua/NAN