09 August, 2006
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank Walter Steinmeier expressed his country's gratitude for the transportation of over six thousand German citizens from Lebanon back home.
Steinmeier met Tuesday evening at Larnaca Airport with Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas on his return from Lebanon.
The German Minister would be going to Israel for talks aimed at a ceasefire.
Welcoming Steinmeier, Lillikas expressed hope that the German minister's mission in the Middle East would be successful.
He added that during their meeting at Larnaca Airport he had the opportunity to exchange views with Steinmeier on the Middle East crisis and hear about the German minister's meetings in Lebanon and what he expected to discuss in Israel.
Lillikas, who also accepted an invitation to visit Germany in September, said they discussed Turkey's EU accession course and would elaborate on the issue when they met in Berlin.
Steinmeier, speaking through an interpreter, expressed satisfaction that Lillikas had accepted his invitation. ''I am very happy to say that my colleague was kind enough to accept my invitation to come to Berlin,'' he said.
''I just came from a brief visit to Lebanon and this takes place against the background of a situation that has been keeping us extremely worried for a few weeks now and I think that we believe that the people have suffered enough and we have to do everything we can to see that the weapons and the arms can be silenced,'' Steinmeier said.
Referring to discussions at the UN Security Council regarding the Middle East crisis, Steinmeier said it seems ''we can be hopeful that we might have a decision and a resolution before the end of the week.''
He added that ''we also talked about the recent decision by the Lebanese government to send in 15,000 Lebanese troops to Southern Lebanon.''
''I think that this decision will contribute to bring about what we all wished for quite some time and that is to see an independent, a strong, a sovereign and a stable Lebanon, a country, the government of which is able to exercise its authority to the whole of the country as a whole, and in so doing we will contribute to stability in the region as a whole and I hope that Lebanon too will be able to contribute and will be willing to contribute to the stability of the region as a whole,'' Steinmeier said.
The German minister added that the termination of hostilities ''is going to figure prominently in the talks that I will have in Israel, as it did today (Tuesday) in the talks that I had in Lebanon.''
Referring to his visit to Cyprus, Steinmeier said he was also here ''to say a word of gratitude, to thank the government of the Republic of Cyprus for the enormous efforts that it has undertaken, for the immense help that it has provided to us in helping us get German citizens out of Lebanon.''
''You helped us find ways and means to get all in all 6.200 Germans back to Germany,'' he said, adding that ''we know that all in all Cyprus had to deal with as many as 55,000 refugees, so we are really grateful for everything you have done, for the enormous efforts that your government has undertaken in order to manage this difficult problem.''
Source: Athens News Agency