Upon his arrival in Moscow this afternoon, President of the Republic Michel Aoun began his official visit by meeting with a delegation of Russian businessmen, who expressed "readiness to contribute to the economic development plan in Lebanon by partaking in a number of development and economic projects prepared by the Lebanese government, especially in the fields of energy, oil, gas, water, reconstruction and infrastructure."
The Russian economic delegation emphasized "the importance of the Lebanese-Russian relations and the significance of their advancement."
President Aoun, in turn, stressed that the cooperation established between Lebanon and Russian companies can continue in various fields according to the needs determined by the Lebanese State, which is on the verge of implementing an economic recovery plan.
"Lebanon also has a key role to play in the reconstruction phase in Syria, where its geographical location can serve as a basis for launching this process, alongside the experience of Lebanese businessmen who are able to coordinate and contribute to said reconstruction," the President asserted.
The encounter was a chance to agree on pursuing the contacts between the Lebanese and Russian sides to discuss the points that were raised on bilateral cooperation between both countries.
President Aoun later met with the Head of the Foreign Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate and all of Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion, in the presence of Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, Archbishop Nivon Saikali, and a number of priests.
"We are pleased to welcome your Excellency in Russia. You are the President of a holy country mentioned several times in the Bible, and Christ has passed through its land and blessed its people with whom we have strong and profound relations," said Metropolitan Hilarion.
He added: "We have ties with the Eastern Churches, and we continue to work on their development...This encounter is an occasion for us to emphasize what brings us together and strengthen our bonds of friendship and cooperation."
For his part, President Aoun welcomed the delegation and underlined "the importance of what unites churches together, regardless of doctrinal differences."
"The Middle East has faced, and continues to face, delicate circumstances that have increased the unity of thought and behavior among Christians," he added. Aoun pointed to the various sects who are living in unjust conditions and are in need of help, which is only possible through having a Christian reference in the Middle East.
"I feel that the Russian Church can play an important role for the Christians of the East, and it is related to them," the President affirmed.
The meeting was an opportunity for President Aoun to provide a briefing on his undertaken moves to establish the "Human Academy for Encounter and Dialogue" and the positive international reactions to it. He stressed the importance of a cultural rapprochement between Christians of Russia and the Christians of the Middle East through reactivating their joint activities, such as religious tourism.
On the first day of the presidential visit to Russia, an encounter with members of the Lebanese community residing there was also arranged, where President Aoun vowed to work on "strengthening the ties between the Lebanese Diaspora and Lebanon."
"Lebanon is economically going through a difficult situation, but we are working to get out of it. The Lebanese people are ready for economic resistance," he said.
"Lebanon is the heart of a dry west, and a mind of an emotional east," Aoun corroborated.
Source: National News Agency