Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) meets with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil (L) in Beirut, capital of Lebanon, on June 23, 2017. (Xinhua/Zhao Dingzhe)
BEIRUT, June 23 (Xinhua) -- China advocates more actions to curb the deterioration of a refugee crisis in the Middle East and find a solution as soon as possible, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday.
Wang made the remarks at a press conference after meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil in Beirut during an one-day visit to Lebanon.
He noted that refugees are not migrants, and the international community should strive to create appropriate conditions, through seeking a more swift solution to hot-button issues, for the refugees to return to their homes.
Bassil said Lebanon is under huge pressure in hosting refugees, mostly from Syria, adding that the world should understand and support Lebanon's legal requests on the refugee problem.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Lebanon is currently hosting 1.03 million Syrian refugees who fled their war-torn country since the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad started in March 2011.
Earlier in the day, the Chinese top diplomat held a meeting with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun, during which both expressed willingness to expand the bilateral cooperation.
Aoun praised the Belt and Road Initiative by China, adding that Lebanon expects to see the revival of the ancient Silk Road. He said Lebanon is ready to actively participate in the initiative in a bid to boost economic and cultural exchanges.
The president also hailed what China has done for the stability of Lebanon and the Middle East, and welcomed China, Lebanon's largest trade partner, to invest more in the region.
Wang said he believed all parties and religions in Lebanon would continue dialogue and negotiations to keep national unity and maintain security and stability, thus providing useful experiences in how different civilizations could coexist peacefully.
Wang said, in light of the good momentum in Sino-Lebanese economic and trade relations, China is willing to enhance the bilateral cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
In a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Wang mentioned that Lebanon is an important hub of the Chinese initiative, as it owns unique advantages which China appreciates. He said China is willing to establish more programs with Lebanon to realize mutual benefits.
Hariri thanked China for supporting Lebanon in hosting Syrian refugees and conducting peacekeeping operations in southern Lebanon, while calling for increased cooperation with China on financing infrastructure projects such as highways and railways.
Wang also met with Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who praised China's support to Lebanon and the Arab world, which he said has contributed to achieving regional peace.
Berri also expressed gratitude to China for its deployment of a peacekeeping operation force in southern Lebanon.
Since 2006, China has maintained a peacekeeping operation force in southern Lebanon, tasked with missions such as mine-sweeping, project construction and humanitarian assistance.