The Daily Star, Lebanon
May 31 2008


Suleiman touts Lebanese Army as model of national unity
By Hussein Abdallah and Nafez Qawas
Daily Star staff
Saturday, May 31, 2008



BEIRUT: President Michel Suleiman said on Friday that the unity of the
Lebanese Armed Forces has proven to be a model for the unity of the
Lebanese people. Addressing a visiting delegation from the army
command at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Suleiman called on the
army to "continue the path."

Suleiman, the former army commander, vowed not to interfere in the
work of the military institution if unnecessary.

He also called for cooperation between the armed forces and the
internal security forces.

Suleiman stressed that Lebanon could not survive unless its people
remained united.

"Lebanon is valued for being the country where different confessions
coexist," he said.

Also on Friday, Suleiman reportedly signed the letters of credentials
for 35 Lebanese charges d'affaires. Among Suleiman's visitors were
Qatari Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Industry Abdallah
Attiyah, a delegation from the Armenian Tashnak Party, and a
delegation from the Lebanese Forces headed by LF leader Samir Geagea.

Geagea told reporters after meeting Suleiman that Lebanon has finally
managed to have a democratic president after a long period of time.

"Suleiman is a democratic president in practice not in theory," he
said, adding that he was happy that life had returned to Baabda after
six months of presidential vacuum.

"In fact, the vacuum has lasted for several years and not six months
because the presidency has not played its role for years," Geagea
said.


Asked about the purpose of his visit to Baabda, Geagea said the visit
was aimed at briefing the president on the LF's vision for the next
government.

Geagea added that no party was interested in obstructing the formation
of the new Cabinet.

"As usual there will be a debate on the distribution of portfolios
... this is only normal and such process should not take much time,"
he said.

Geagea's visit to the Presidential Palace was his first in the past 20
years.

Meanwhile, Atiyyah said after meeting Suleiman that Qatar would stand
by Lebanon and foresee the implementation of the Doha agreement, which
was recently signed by the rival Lebanese parties, ending an 18-month
old political crisis.

Atiyyah said that the Doha agreement should not be viewed as a truce
deal.

"It is more than that ... we should be optimistic because the
agreement has put the Lebanese on the right track," the deputy premier
said.

Atiyyah said he hoped that Lebanon's summer would be a promising one.

"I have already learned that many Qataris who were planning a vacation
have changed their destinations and will be visiting Lebanon this
summer."

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress