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Political Background Discussion with Saad Hariri

Berlin, March 15, 2010

Saad Hariri, President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Lebanon, met with members of the German Bundestag, representatives of federal ministries, government agencies and selected think tanks to discuss current regional challenges in the Middle East. The discussion also focused on domestic political developments in Lebanon.

According to Hariri, three basic problems had a rather negative effect on the situation in the region in general and on Lebanon in particular. Of decisive importance was the ongoing and unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Furthermore, the increase in extremism constituted a great threat not only for Lebanon and the surrounding region, but for the whole of the international community. Moreover, Iran’s nuclear activities constituted an important regional challenge. If Iran became a nuclear power, Hariri thought, it would probably lead to a nuclear arms race in the area.

Whereas the participants in the ensuing discussion shared Hariri’s view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a central challenge for the region, they also pointed to other problems. For example, they talked about securing the border between Lebanon and Syria and the role of Hezbollah. Hariri emphasized that a properly functioning and well-equipped army was of great importance for Lebanon. Furthermore, he underlined the significance of viable government structures, and in particular of a good educational system and functioning healthcare facilities for the maintenance of internal stability.

The Political Background Discussion continues Körber Foundation’s focus on current questions of foreign, security and defense policy. This series has included the Political Background Discussions with Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, Shadow Security Minister and National Security Adviser to the Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom, Michèle A. Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from the U.S. Department of Defense and H.E. Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Körber Foundation regularly invites a small circle of high-ranking actors within Berlin’s foreign policy community to its Political Background Discussions. As in the Bergedorf Round Tables, the discussions take place shielded from the public, so as to enable a confidential, frank, and constructive exchange.

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