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Austrian FM supports return of Syrian refugees

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, left, speaks during a joint press conference with her Lebanese counterpart Gibran Bassil, at the Lebanese foreign ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

BEIRUT (AP) — Austria’s foreign minister says the return of refugees, stabilization and reconstruction in Syria must not be rigidly tied to a political process.

Karin Kneissl says Monday during a visit to neighboring Lebanon that the world should seize on “a new dynamic” developing in Syria, which has been mired in civil war for more than seven years.

Kneissl says no Syrian refugee will be forced to return, but that Austria will help those willing to return like it did with Bosnian refugees after the end of the conflict there.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says Lebanon, which hosts more than a million Syrian refugees, is working to ensure their “fast, secure, honorable and sustainable” return. He says “security now prevails” in most of Syria, making it possible for refugees to return.

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