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On Lebanon, France Speaks First But Defers on Army's Qahwaji, Limbo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 -- After the UN Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement on Lebanon, it was French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud who came out to talk about it Wednesday morning, before his Lebanese counterpart Nawaf Salam.

Inner City Press asked Araud about the limbo surrounding Lebanese Army chief Jean Qahwaji. He has reached 60, the retirement age. Nabih Berri is trying to hold a parliamentary session from July 16-18 to get an extension and other things done. But Najib Miqati says it can't be done.

  US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has raised the matter; the UN's said to be concerned to given the need for its UNIFIL mission to coordinate with the Lebanese Army.

  But Araud said he wouldn't answer, calling it a question of Lebanese sovereignty. Sometimes that matters, apparently. Sometimes. Inner City Press' second question to Araud, he said was a question for legal experts and he'd revert. We'll be writing on this soon.

  When Nawaf Salam took to the microphone, Inner City Press asked him about Jean Qahwaji. He too declined to answer, saying it's a matter of political debate and that he is a part of the debate. He is an author, too, as we've covered in the past.

  Tuesday, Nawaf Salam said the number of refugees from Syria is over a million, as high as 1.2 million. He said they receive better hospitality “in the community” than in camps, and that while some countries have been very supportive financially, the international community...

  He paused, and managed to say, with this hands, that the international community's support is not as big as the need. But what about Jean Qahwaji? Watch this site.


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