The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received this afternoon at the Grand Serail the International Support Group for Lebanon, which included the ambassadors of the United States, Elizabeth Richard, Russia, Alexander Zasypkin, France, Bruno Foucher, the United Kingdom, Chris Rampling, Germany, George Birgelen, Italy, Massimo Marotti and the European Union, Ralph Tarraf, as well as the Chinese Charge d'affaires Jiang Zuyang, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis and the Arab League Representative Ambassador Abdel Rahman Solh, in the presence of former Minister Ghattas Khoury.
After the meeting, Kubis said:
Prime Minister Hariri received today at the Grand Serail the members of the International Support Group consisting of Ambassadors representing China, France, Germany, Italy, Russian federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the European Union, the league of Arab states and the United nations.
Prime Minister Hariri informed the ambassadors about the serious reform overdue measures taken yesterday by the government, be it as a part of the draft 2020 budget to be adopted within the constitutional deadline, or outside the budget.
Prime Minister Hariri reiterated that these and other envisaged measures are just first steps. He credited the consensus in government around them to the men and women that have in the past days protested for their national dignity, restoring national identity and putting it above the sectarian or confessional identity.
He reconfirmed that these measures are not meant to ask the protesters to stop expressing anger as that is a decision that only they can take.
If early parliamentary elections are their demand, it is only their voice to decide.
He also confirmed that the government will not allow anyone to threaten the protesters and that the state has the duty to protect the peaceful expression of legitimate demands.
The International Support Group expressed its support for the reform objectives that Prime Minister Hariri has outlined and the decisions endorsed by the cabinet, which are in line with the aspirations of the Lebanese people.
They applaud the democratic expression of the Lebanese people and their calls for just, social, responsible and acceptable deep reforms and changes that should substantially reduce corruption and waste and move away from sectarianism and should put government in full accountability and lead to sustainable development and stability. Their grievances must be addressed.
The ISG welcomes the largely responsible behavior of the Internal security forces and the Lebanese armed forces that notably since Saturday have respected people's right to peaceful protest.
It takes note of Prime Minster Hariri's commitment that the government and its legitimate security forces will continue providing protection to peaceful demonstrating civilians while taking appropriate action against possible instigators of violence, in protection of public and private property and institutions and right of people to peacefully express their opinion.
The ISG urges the leaders and political actors of Lebanon to listen to the legitimate demands of the people, to work with them on solutions and their implementation and to refrain from rhetoric and actions that could inflame tensions and incite confrontation and violence.
The ISG reiterates its strong support for Lebanon and its people, for its territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence.
Hariri earlier received the French Ambassador Bruno Foucher, the Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin and the Ambassador of the United Kingdom Chris Rampling.
Source: National News Agency