YEREVAN (combined sources)–Lebanese President Emile Lahoud arrived at Yerevan Zvartnots Airport on May 2. At noon–the Armenian and Lebanese presidents held a private meeting–and members of the Lebanese delegation held a meeting with their Armenian colleagues. In conclusion of the meeting–the sides signed an agreement on cooperation in the public health and medicine sphere–as well as a practical program of cooperation in the sport sphere for 2001-2002.
The presidents agreed to deepen their relationship by placing a greater emphasis on economic cooperation. The presidents also called for the expansion of bilateral business contacts–which–according to them–is unsatisfactory at present.
Official sources also quoted Lahoud and his Armenian counterpart stressing the importance of the Armenian community in Lebanon. President Lahoud praised the role of the Armenian community in Lebanon for making weighty contributions in the development of the country.
Thereafter–President Kocharian stated that one of the priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy is the establishment of friendly relations with Arab countries. According to him–Lebanon occupies a special place in this policy. Kocharian made high appraisals of the current level of bilateral relations–and stressed that the Armenian community of Lebanon is an additional factor promoting the improvement of the bilateral relations. He also congratulated the Lebanese president on the liberation of the country’s southern region–pointing out that Armenia is closely following the Middle East peace process.
The sides also discussed prospects of economic cooperation. They said that despite positive changes in this field–the level of economic cooperation still remains unsatisfactory. The importance of information exchange among businessmen and organization of business forums was also pointed out.
Stressing that both countries are effectively cooperating within the framework of various international organizations–the sides expressed their resolution to continue this cooperation.
"The negotiations are effective and the atmosphere is very cordial," Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told reporters. "The two presidents have developed a close–personal rapport–which is reflecting positively on the inter-state relationship."
Lahoud is scheduled to meet with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Margarian on May 3. The Lebanese delegation will also pay a visit to Etchmiadzin to meet with His Holiness Karekin II–Catholicos of All Armenia’s.