First Couple Begins Official Visit to Lebanon

BEIRUT (Combined Sources)–Armenian and Lebanese Presidents Robert Kocharian and Emil Lahoud met on Monday to discuss intensifying their already solid bilateral relations. Officials said the two also reviewed the situation in the Middle East–including Iraq. The Armenian president was due to meet with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Accompanied by Armenian first lady Bella–President Kocharian was greeted by President Lahoud and Lebanese first lady Andrea at Beirut International airport early Monday.

A state dinner was held in honor of the Armenian first couple Monday evening–and the two planned to visit historical and cultural sites on Tuesday.

Lebanon hosts the Arab world’s largest Armenian community–with about 200,000 members. The community has government ministers and parliament members–and is very active in the business sector. Kocharian was scheduled to meet church and other leaders.

Kocharian made a first visit to Lebanon in 2000. The Lebanese president–whose mother and wife are of Armenian origin–made a trip to Yerevan in 2002. Hariri also visited Armenia in April–where he signed a series of agreemen’s for bilateral economic and cultural cooperation.

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