Statement on the visit of the President of Lebanon
MON 16 APRIL 2012
Prime Minister Gillard today warmly welcomed President Sleiman and his accompanying delegation to Australia, the first visit to Australia by a President of Lebanon.
Prime Minister Gillard and President Sleiman acknowledged the strength of people to people links between Australia and Lebanon and the foundation for a strong, productive and long-standing bilateral relationship.
They discussed the significant contribution to all aspects of Australian society by Australians of Lebanese descent.
President Sleiman told Prime Minister Gillard that he looked forward to conferring on NSW Governor, Professor Marie Bashir the National Order of the Cedar in recognition of her contribution to enhancing friendship and cooperation between Lebanon and Australia.
The two Leaders welcomed the recent establishment of the Australia Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Melbourne, which they believed would complement the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce in Sydney and serve to stimulate increased bilateral trade and investment.
The leaders discussed a number of significant regional issues including events in Syria, the need for constructive talks between P5+1 and the Middle East peace process.
They urged the immediate and full implementation of UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy Annan’s six-point peace plan.
Leaders welcomed enhanced cooperation in defence matters, including through the offering of places to members of the Lebanese Armed Forces in joint training courses in Australia.
Prime Minister Gillard reiterated Australia’s support for de-mining activities in Lebanon and announced an additional $1 million contribution to accelerate the return of land free of mines to the people of South Lebanon.
President Sleiman and Prime Minister Gillard discussed the important work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). Australia’s financial assistance to UNRWA includes support for the valuable help UNRWA provides to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
President Sleiman welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that Australia would provide funding to support a Visiting National Professionals Program at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.