|Russia to boost capacities of Lebanese Army: Lavrov||
Russia will work to boost the capacities of the Lebanese Army, according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“Russia will enhance military cooperation with Lebanon, mainly by reinforcing the defense capabilities of the Lebanese Army and security forces,” the Daily Star quoted Lavrov as saying during a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil in Moscow on Thursday.
“We will present our contributions to the international community in the plan to reinforce the Lebanese Army and the state institutions,” he said, in reference to the plan by the International Support Group for Lebanon.
Lavrov also said Russia would not interfere in the Lebanese presidential election.
“The presidential election is a Lebanese affair... Russia does not have any preferences concerning the presidential election,” he said. “We are looking forward to the presidential election."
"Electing a new president could unite the Lebanese society," he added.
He said that “Lebanon is a complicated country and the constitution should be respected by everyone,” adding his country will coordinate with anyone elected as new head of state.
For his part, Bassil said Russia can play a prominent role in contributing to political stability in Lebanon and the Middle East.
He also said that Lebanese and Russia should cooperate regarding Lebanon's oil resources and the Syrian refugees’ crisis. Lavrov proposed a “systematic solution” for the refugee issue rather than “temporary humanitarian assistance.”
Bassil, a former energy minister, said Russia should take part in oil and gas exploration in the seabed off Lebanon's coast.
The foreign minister left Beirut Wednesday heading to Moscow on a two-day official visit to hold talks with Russian officials on bilateral ties and Russia’s role in the region.
Hariri tribunal charges Al-Akhbar chief
Meanwhile, an international court set up to investigate the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minsiter Rafik Hariri has summoned Al-Akhbar's editor-in-chief and a journalist for Al-Jadeed Television over two counts of Obstruction of Justice, the body announced Thursday, according to Al-Akhbar's English website.
The Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) said there are "sufficient grounds to proceed against" Ibrahim al-Amin of Al-Akhbar and Al-Jadeed's Karma al-Khayat "for the publication of names asserted to be those of alleged confidential witnesses in the Tribunal's proceedings," a statement said.
The charges against Amin relate to the decision of Al-Akhbar in January 2013 to publish the names of 32 witnesses belonging to the STL's prosecution.
The summon against Khayat, Deputy Head of News and Political Programs, involves material broadcast on Al-Jadeed in August 2012.
"There is prima facie evidence that the publication of information relating to the identity of alleged confidential witnesses entailed knowing and willful interference with the administration of justice" in breach of court rules, the statement, authored by contempt judge David Baragwanath, said.
The summons were issues on January 31, but only publicized Thursday.
The court set May 13, 2014 as the date for Amin and Khayat to appear before it, either in person of via video link.
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