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Controversy on Invitation of Syrian Regime to Economic Summit in Beirut

Controversy on Invitation of Syrian Regime to Economic Summit in Beirut

Wednesday, 19 December, 2018 - 08:00
Police forces gather outside the parliament building in Downtown Beirut November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi.

A possible invitation to the Syrian regime to attend the 2019 Arab Economic Summit expected in Beirut on January 20 has drawn controversy in Lebanon.

Political parties loyal to Damascus, including Hezbollah, have been exerting pressure on officials to convince them into inviting the Assad regime to the summit.

However, parties loyal to the March 14 coalition have warned from the repercussions of such invitation, particularly if taken without the consent of the Arab League.

They also said such decision could further push Lebanon into the Iranian sphere of influence.

The summit is largely important for Lebanon since Beirut hosted the Arab Summit in 2002.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's economic adviser Nadim Munla downplayed the impact of failing to invite Syria to the summit.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Munla said Lebanon is a hosting country but not responsible for deciding which state to invite.

“Such a decision is taken by the Arab League,” he said, adding that Beirut would respect the organization’s choices.

For his part, MP Yassine Jaber from the Amal Movement’s parliamentary bloc said he hoped Lebanon had not hosted the event because the country “does not need additional problems.”

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