President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, affirmed to the Lebanese that no one will be able to stop the reform and anti-corruption process that has started since his arrival to office. "This reform path will be pursued with the efforts of all the believers in Lebanon, regardless of how hard those ill-benefiting try to sabotage this reform plan through rumors and groundless news," the president said, stressing that such rumors negatively impact the newly-found trust in Lebanon.

Aoun called upon the Lebanese "to help the State fight corruption, because there is no chance for reform in a society where people do not want to combat corruption."

The president wondered about the "real objectives of those who utter positions that weaken the confidence in the Lebanese economy and the national currency," assuring that "Lebanon has an oil wealth and there is no fear of bankruptcy with the presence of such a wealth."

"We are working on reactivating the economy, but this is not going to happen overnight. It requires more patience and the sectors' efforts to withstand as much as possible, because the legacy we inherited is weighty," he said.

During his meeting with a delegation of the Union of Importers of Food, Consumables and Beverages in Lebanon, headed by Hani Bohsali, the President reiterated support for "promoting trade, which would, in turn, encourage the flourishing of tourism in Lebanon."

"The decision to regulate the import of certain foodstuffs resulted from the balance of payments' deficit, what prompted the minister of economy to resort to measures that protect the national industry. Those are not many, but we are bound by them," he explained.

"Lebanon has succeeded in reducing smuggling, which is clearly shown by the customs data, in light of the mechanism followed by the Directorate of Customs," he pointed out, underlining the importance of the fight against drug trafficking, due to its dire consequences on the country.

The President held a series of political, diplomatic and cultural meetings this Thursday at the Baabda Palace, welcoming in this context, the secretary-general of the Lebanese-Syrian Supreme Council, Dr. Nasri al-Khoury, with whom he tackled "the work of the Council and the situation of the displaced Syrians, and their gradual return to the safe areas of Syria, especially after the uttered position of Syrian officials to facilitate this return."

President Aoun also met with the Chairman of the French Assemply for the Future (RFPA), Ambassador Khalil Hadifa, and members of the assembly, with talks touching on the Lebanese-French relations and means of developing them in all fields.

The President later met with actress TaklaChamoun and her husband, writer and director Tony Farajallah, who briefed Aoun on their activities of cultural and spiritual nature aimed at conveying the message of the oriental presence to the world; activities culminated with the historical film "Maureen" which tells the story of St. Marina who lived in Qannoubine in the Byzantine era.

Aoun's guests also briefed him on the preparations for the reception of the body of Saint Marina coming from the Italian city of Venice to Lebanon, where it will be on display from July 17 to 23, after 800 years of absence.

On the occasion, the Maronite Patriarch will celebrate a mass at the Summer Patriarchate in Diman at 5:00 pm on the day of the body's arrival.

President Aoun commended "the efforts made to convey the true image of Lebanon, the homeland of holiness and mission," stressing "the importance of returning to the roots in order to meet the present challenges and look forward to a bright future."

Source: National News Agency

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