President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi received Lebanese President Michel Aoun on 13 February. The two held talks that included delegations from both countries. The meeting was intended to boost bilateral relations and cooperation on regional issues.
During his visit to Egypt Aoun also met with Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, at St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo.
During his meeting with Aoun, Al-Sisi noted that Lebanon’s success in electing a president set an example for other states seeking national solutions. He also praised the agreement that has been reached between Lebanon’s various political factions to end the presidential vacuum. “This step was essential to strengthen Lebanon’s stability,” said Al-Sisi.
In October 2016 the Lebanese parliament elected Aoun as president, ending a power struggle that had kept the presidential office empty for more than two years. In November of the same year Al-Sisi congratulated Aoun on his election and confirmed Egypt’s support for the Lebanese people as they faced difficult regional challenges.
Al-Sisi expressed confidence that Aoun’s leadership would provide stability and preserve state institutions. “Aoun’s term will strengthen Lebanon’s position, its political plurality and cultural diversity, and Egypt will continue to support and assist Lebanon’s development endeavours,” he said.
Aoun expressed appreciation for Egypt and its leadership and extended an invitation to Al-Sisi to visit Lebanon as soon as possible. The Lebanese president affirmed that his visit to Egypt was aimed at strengthening the outstanding relations the two countries share. “Lebanon relies on Egypt’s key role in the region to overcome the crises it is experiencing,” he said.
“There is no salvation for our two countries except through solidarity against terrorism,” said Aoun. “We have also emphasised the need to achieve a just and comprehensive peace, to guarantee the Palestinian people’s right to return and establish their country.”
The two presidents discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations and economic ties, especially on the level of trade. They also touched on the condition of the Egyptian community in Lebanon with Al-Sisi expressing his confidence that any problems faced by Egyptian expatriates in Lebanon would soon be solved.
Al-Sisi and Aoun also reviewed regional and international issues. Al-Sisi affirmed his appreciation for Lebanon’s role as an integral part of the Arab nation, in which context they discussed the Syrian crisis and developments related to the peace process in the Middle East.
The two presidents said they stood together in the fight against terrorism and extremism and underlined the need to address the root cause of crises in the Middle East while ensuring the territorial integrity of all the region’s countries.
The Lebanese president called on Egypt to launch an Arab rescue initiative based on a common strategy to fight terrorism and find political solutions to crises in the Arab world, especially in Syria.
“I am looking forward to enhancing bilateral cooperation in all fields. Egypt is a major pillar of security and stability in the Arab world,” said Aoun.
In response, Al-Sisi said Egypt was committed to standing by Lebanon and he urged the international community to assist it in hosting refugees.
Aoun, 81, a former chief of the Lebanese army, was able to assume the country’s highest office after winning support from two rivals, the Christian leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea, and Sunni former prime minister Saad Al-Hariri. The new Lebanese president, a Maronite Christian, was born in the working-class Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik and pursued a military career before entering politics.
In August Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri met with Lebanon’s parliament speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam in Beirut to discuss ways to reach a consensus that would end the power vacuum that had dogged the country.