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Fletcher meets Salam calls for ending presidential vacuum

Fletcher reiterates UK strong support to education and army; calls for need to fill presidential vacuum for sake of the Lebanese people

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

UK support to Lebanon

UK support to Lebanon

British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher met this morning with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail.

Following his meeting Ambassador Fletcher said:

We focused today on two areas of strong UK support:

  • education, where we are working with the government to significantly increase the numbers of children in school, and getting textbooks to over 300,000 children;

  • the army, where we have a substantive package of support to the land border regiments, training and equipping them to keep Da’esh on the other side of the border. I salute their courage under fire.

We also discussed the humanitarian challenges. I know that Lebanon will continue to show generosity to all those in need. We understand our obligation to help - we are spending more per square kilometre in Lebanon than anywhere else in the world.

Finally, the politics. Some Lebanese leaders seem to have concluded that a Presidential vacuum is in their interests. Maybe it is in their interests. But it is not in the interests of the Lebanese people. It is not in the interests of parents working so hard to bring up their children in security. It is not in the interests of businesses trying to build the economy and provide jobs. It is not in the interests of the brave soldiers who are protecting the borders. It is not in the interests of young people seeking hope and a future. It is not in the interests of all of us who believe in Lebanon’s ability to battle the odds and come through.

The international community could not have been clearer or more united on the importance of resolving this corrosive issue. We could not have said more constantly that there is no magical international fix. We could not have spoken louder about the danger of this irresponsible failure of duty.

Lebanon’s leaders don’t need to make progress for the sake of the international community, and they clearly won’t. But they should do so for the sake of the Lebanese people they claim to represent. The Lebanese people deserve better.

Published 23 February 2015