Kocharian Begins 3 Day Visit to Lebanon

BEIRUT (Reuters–Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian arrived in Lebanon Tuesday for an official visit aimed at bolstering already strong ties between the two countries.

Kocharian was given a 21-gun salute at Beirut airport where he was met by Lebanese President Emile Lahoud–Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss and senior officials.

The Armenian leader was to receive an honorary doctorate from Lebanese University during his three-day visit–as well as meet government officials and clerics.

Lebanon in October signed several economic agreemen’s with Armenia–strengthening ties with Armenia.

Lebanon naturalized thousands of Armenia’s who fled the Armenian Genocide. There are seven Lebanese of Armenian descent in the 128-seat parliament and a minister in the 15-member cabinet.

Kocharian left for Lebanon Tuesday heading a delegation which includes Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–Economy Minister Armen Darbinian–Minister of Culture–Youth Affairs and Sport Roland Sharoyan–members of the National Assembly Andranik Margarian–and Vardan Ayvazian–Central Bank Chairman Tigran Sargssian–and other officials.

According to Aztag daily newspaper–our sister publication in Beirut–Kocharian was taken to the Vandome Hotel where he was greeted by prime minister Selim Hoss and parliament speaker Nabih Berri. The president was also visited by His Holiness–Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia.

Also on the same day– extended Armenian-Lebanese talks were held during which bilateral documen’s between the governmen’s of Armenia and Lebanon were signed on combined international shipmen’s–on consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries–as well as on a practical program of cultural cooperation between the ministries of culture of Armenia and Lebanon for 2000-01.

During his visit to Lebanon–Kocharian will receive an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Lebanon. He is also scheduled to visit the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia. Kocharian will address the Lebanese-Armenian community on Thursday.

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