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Lebanon’s Information Minister Quits to Ease Gulf Dispute

Lebanon’s Information Minister Quits to Ease Gulf Dispute

Friday, 3 December, 2021 - 17:15
Kordahi during a press conference to announce his resignation. (AFP)

Lebanon's information minister resigned on Friday, saying he was putting the country before his personal interest to help end a diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries brought on by his comments.


George Kordahi, a TV host-turned-politican, said he had quit before Emmanuel Macron visited Saudi Arabia in the hope that the French president would help ease the crisis triggered by his offensive remarks.


Saudi Arabia expelled Lebanon's envoy to the Kingdom, recalled its ambassador to Beirut and banned Lebanese imports after Kordahi's comments, which Riyadh said were a symptom of the wider issue of Iran-backed Hezbollah's grip on Lebanon.


Other Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, followed Saudi Arabia's lead with similar measures against Lebanon.


Kordahi had refused to resign in the weeks afterwards even as Prime Minister Najib Mikati asked him to put "national interest" first.


"I understood from Mikati...that the French want my resignation to take place ahead of his (Macron's) visit," Kordahi told a news conference.


He said he believed Mikati had assurances that Macron would discuss Lebanon's ties with Riyadh.


"I refuse to be used as a reason to harm Lebanon and my fellow Lebanese in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries," he said, adding he wanted to prevent any punitive action against the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese living in Gulf states.


Macron said on Friday he hoped there would be "progress" on the Lebanon crisis in the next hours and said France would "do all we can to re-engage the Gulf regions for the benefit of Lebanon," in comments made during a visit to the United Arab Emirates.


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