HARIRI ON EGYPT VISIT: WE ACHIEVED MORE THAN WE EXPECTED

At the end of his two-day visit to Egypt, the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri talked to the accompanying journalists. He described the visit as positive, fruitful, and in the interest of both countries.

Question: What do you bring to Lebanon after the visit?

Hariri: The committee that had not met for seven years met again. There were some problems hindering trade between Lebanon and Egypt, and the arrival of Lebanese goods. These impediments have been removed and I reached an agreement with the Egyptian brothers regarding apples. Also a mechanism has been established so that Lebanese medicine manufactured in Lebanon would be able to reach Egypt.

We also opened the doors of investment for the Lebanese businessmen in Egypt and vice versa. I agreed with the Egyptian Prime Minister to have consistent visits from Egyptian ministers to Lebanon and to open the door of tourism in a way that benefits both countries. I think that we achieved from this visit more than we expected. On the agricultural level, we agreed that the ministers of agriculture would come to an understanding on the agricultural calendar and the Egyptians were very cooperative in this regard. All these matters would help the Lebanese economy, the industrialists and farmers export their products to Egypt.

Question: You return this evening to the Lebanese concerns. Are we on the verge of an open political crisis regarding the electoral law?

Hariri: I am not returning to the Lebanese concern. I am returning to Lebanon. I think the atmosphere is positive and I do not believe that we are heading to a crisis. We must not exaggerate things and I am sure that we will agree on an electoral law that represents all the Lebanese.

Question: Are these agreements an alternative to agreements with other Gulf countries?

Hariri: No. This committee did not meet for seven years, so mechanisms had to be be completed and some work on this issue had to be achieved. This committee is supposed to meet once a year but it did not and there was no communication between governments in both countries. Thus, what is happening today will improve trade between Lebanon and Egypt.

Question: To what extent do you bet on the Egyptian political role?

Hariri: Egypt is a big Arab country and we respect it a lot. Some are trying to show that there is a big problem in the Arab League over controversial issues. I say: Yes there are different points of view in the Arab League and this could be positive. We respect and love our brothers in the Gulf and you know the historic relations between Lebanon and the Gulf, particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since late king Abdul Aziz and all the other kings who followed. But today there is a challenge in the region and I do not consider that these disputes should affect the relations with the states. There is no doubt that Lebanon experienced a difficult phase due to the absence of a president, an effective government and a parliament that works. I believe that we are able to absorb these disputes and discuss them with our brothers in the Gulf . We have no problem with the Gulf.

Question: Do they have a problem with us?

Hariri: They do not have a problem with us. There is a disagreement on the issue of regional interference in Lebanon, but this interference is not in Lebanon alone but in the whole region. It is true that there are differences within the government, but this does not mean that we will create a problem. We will put these differences aside and discuss them quietly to find solutions that can benefit Lebanon.

Source: National News Agency