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Sfeir: 1559 source of support for Lebanon’s independence

Patriarch says talks with Chirac 'excellent'


Daily Star/Tuesday, February 01, 2005/Therese Sfeir

Posted on 02/07/05    10:15 am

BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir said Monday that UN Security Council Resolution 1559 is a source of support to Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and freedom of decision.

Sfeir returned to Lebanon on Monday, after a 10-day trip to the Vatican and France, and during which he met with Pope John Paul II and French President Jacques Chirac.

Several political figures welcomed Sfeir at the airport including French Ambassador Bernard Emie and the Lebanese president's representative Telecommunications Minister Jean Louis Qordahi.

Commenting on his meeting with Chirac, the prelate said it was "excellent" and that they had tackled several issues, including Resolution 1559 and its role in achieving Lebanon's independence.

"We support this resolution since it stipulates the achievement of Lebanon's sovereignty, liberty and independence."

Asked about how this resolution would be implemented, particularly since several Islamic officials had expressed their opposition to it, Sfeir said: "This issue should be discussed between the Lebanese people themselves as only they know what they want."

Concerning the probability the return of exiled former army General Michel Aoun to Lebanon, Sfeir said his return would mean "the war is now behind us and reconciliation can take place."

As for the upcoming May parliamentary elections, Sfeir insisted on the endorsement of an electoral law that would be based on the small district system or qadas, adding the elections should be fair and should express the Lebanese people's ability to make free decisions.

Asked if he is would meet with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Walid Moallem during the latter's visit to Lebanon later today, Sfeir said: "We welcome him as the country welcomed him before."

Concerning Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa's statements last week that Syrian troops would withdraw from Lebanon in a period of two years, the patriarch said: "I think that when the Syrian Foreign Minister was asked this question, he didn't say that exactly, but said he was ready to withdraw from Lebanon when the Lebanese ask him to do so."

As for his meeting with the Pope John Paul II and the Vatican's foreign minister, Sfeir said they had discussed several issues concerning the situation in Lebanon and the Middle East.