Lebanon is interested in the development of economic ties with Russia in all areas, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri told a RIA Novosti correspondent before heading for Brussels to initial an agreement on Lebanon's joining the EU as an associated member. According to preliminary official reports, Russian-Lebanese trade in 2001 reached $250 mln, with a great positive balance in Moscow's favor. The prime minister called to stabilize the situation by increasing Lebanese exports to Russian markets. Al-Hariri expressed the hope that Lebanon's entering the EU as an associated member would allow the country to harmonize its production, economic and legal structures, would give an impetus to its export sectors and eventually increase the state's gross domestic product. The agreement with the EU is regarded in the context of further integration of Lebanon into the world economic processes and its joining the WTO. In recent years, the EU member countries' share 45% in Lebanon's imports, and 25% in exports.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.