BEIRUT (Aztag)–Armenian Prime Minister Armen Darbinian–accompanied by a delegation of other officials and economic experts–arrived in Beirut on Wednesday. The purpose of his visit is to work to strengthen relations between Armenia and Lebanon.
At the airport in Beirut–Darbinian was greeted by Lebanese Prime Minister Raffik Hariri. Also present were ministers–Shahe Barsoomian–John Obeid–Fuad Siniori–Fauzi Herbeish and Omar Mscaui–members of the Armenian Parliamentary Caucus Sebouh Hovnanian–Khatchig Babigian–Jack Chookhadarian and Abraham Dedeian–Representative Yeghia Jerenian–Armenian Ambassador–Arman Navasartian–foreign ministry executives and military leaders.
The two prime ministers then held an hour long–closed session–meeting. Following the meeting they were joined by other members of the Armenian delegation along with representatives from the Lebanese side. During the meeting–Hariri suggested that the two countries establish an open door trade policy.
The two prime ministers then held a conference with the press during which–Hairi gave a welcoming speech to his colleague and welcomed him as a friend–rather than a government official. "We are very proud of the Armenian community in Lebanon which played a key role in the development of Lebanon as a nation. Armenian citizens also played a major role in the strengthening of relations between the two countries." Hariri also stated that presently trade relations between the two countries are limited and that he hopes that the situation will improve in the future–for the common benefit of both nations.
Darbinian–in his speech–said that relations with Lebanon have grown so strong that a warm atmosphere exists between the two nations. "We regard the relationship between our governmen’s very highly–which positively affects the citizens in the community." Darbininan also stated that he is very proud of working with Lebanon’s government because it gives him the pleasure of interacting with Hairi. Darbinian concluded by saying that he is optimistic that the meeting will further improve relations in the political as well as the economic realm of both nations. The two sides had previously signed a signed a tax agreement beneficial to both parties.
While discussing international affairs–Hairi said–"Armenia has always been supportive of our nation in international forums and is very concerned about the situation in the Middle East and we greatly appreciate that."
The area of cooperation that needs most work is the economic sphere. Darbinian admitted that trade between the nations is quite limited and the only way to improve this situation is by encouraging both Armenian and Lebanese engineering firms to export more goods in order to keep up with the increased demand in technology.
Hairi claimed that the first step in that direction has already been taken with the agreemen’s that had been signed and the promise to increase the number of flights between the two countries. The Lebanese Prime Minister continued saying that his nation has always been willing and ready to cooperate with other nations.
Both sides agreed that the meetings had been very helpful and look forward to having such meetings in the future. The crucial bond which ties Armenia and Lebanon–however–lies within the community–in which Armenian citizens play an active part. As long as that close bond exists–cooperation will be very easy.