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Hollande Ends his Visit to Lebanon in Syrian Refugee Camp Eastern Beqaa - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut-The French President, Francois Hollande ended his two-day visit to Lebanon on Sunday, thus wrapping up his first visit, which is part of a three-nation Middle East tour.

He went to the Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Beqaa region, Dalhamiya, where he was quoted telling the Syrian children, “You have to be hopeful to go back to your homes. It will take time, but you need to learn so that you can go back in a better situation.”

Lebanon hosts around 1.2 million Syrians who fled civil war in their home country.

Sunday morning, Hollande held separate talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai, who handed the French official a memorandum on the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the presidential vacuum, and terrorism in the region.

Following his meeting with al-Rai, Hollande declared: “France only has one candidate for the presidential elections, and it is Lebanon.”

Hollande also noted that France will keep pushing for the implementation of the Saudi-French agreement on providing the Lebanese army with weapons, which was suspended earlier this year amid high tensions between the kingdom and the so-called Hezbollah.

During his visit, Hollande also met two Syrian families in the Beqaa, who are expected to be sent to France where they will be naturalized, and he also held meetings with representatives from the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other nongovernmental French organizations.

The French president later announced that France will grant Lebanon 50 million euros to support the displaced and underlined the need for a political solution to the crisis in Syria to ensure the safe return of refugees to their homeland.

He called on Lebanese leaders to quickly elect a president. “I have met with all representatives of the parties and expressed to them my position and wishes that the Lebanese must find a solution and elect a president as soon as possible and draw up an electoral law to enable the Lebanese to vote,” Hollande said.