EU, Lebanon discuss Syrian refugee issue

Beirut, June 19 (IANS) Visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Tuesday held talks with the Lebanese officials over the plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, while calling for “a political solution to the conflict in Syria”.

According to the UN, Lebanon has received the biggest influx of refugees, some 533,000, in the Middle East.

After meeting Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Ashton said that “de-escalating tensions in Lebanon is a priority”, reported Xinhua citing an official statement.

“Any country would have struggled with an increase of 25 per cent of its population and commended all efforts to provide protection and assistance,” said Ashton, alluding to the percentage of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The conflict in the neighbouring Syria has raised tensions in Lebanon, where militant party Hezbollah backs the Syrian government and the opposition supports the uprising against it.

Ashton reiterated the EU’s commitment to “Lebanon’s security and prosperity” and its support for the Beirut’s “official policy of disassociation from the fighting in Syria”.

Though Lebanon is officially neutral in Syria’s conflict, the country has been increasingly embroiled in the fighting.

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