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Mikati Voices Optimism on Lebanese-Gulf Relations

Mikati Voices Optimism on Lebanese-Gulf Relations

Thursday, 24 March, 2022 - 09:00
Prime Minister Najib Mikati chairing the cabinet session on Wednesday (Dalati & Nohra)

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that recent statements by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait augur that the “cloud” that hovered over the country’s relations with the Gulf States is “fading away.”

In remarks during a cabinet session on Wednesday, Mikati expressed commitment to the implementation of the ministerial policy statement, calling on the Arabs to stand by Lebanon.

He said that recent announcements by the ministries of foreign affairs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait bode that the “cloud that has troubled Lebanon’s relations with its brothers in the Gulf States, as we all hope, will disappear in the near future.”

Earlier this week, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the “positive points” contained in a statement issued by Mikati on Monday, expressing its hope that this would contribute to Lebanon’s restoration of its role and status in the Arab world and at the international level.

The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry, in turn, said on Wednesday that it welcomed Mikati’s statement, looking forward to “completing constructive measures in a way that contributes to more security, stability and prosperity for Lebanon and its people.”

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, sources in the presidential office said: “The presidency is satisfied with the positive reaction from the Arab countries, because this is what President [Michel] Aoun was seeking.”

They continued: “This is what [the president] previously stressed during the visit of the Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, last week, that Lebanon only wants the best relations with the Gulf and Arab countries.”

According to the presidential sources, Lebanon has abided by the Gulf requests in terms of combating crime and smuggling.

Referring to Hezbollah’s role in the region, the sources said: “There are other issues that the Arabs have demanded, which fall within a regional context… This needs joint Arab and international efforts…”

In this regard, MP Wael Abu Faour, who is currently on a visit to Riyadh, said that the recent positions came in the wake of Mikati’s statements and were based on the Kuwaiti initiative to mend ties with Lebanon and an endeavor by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“All these factors have contributed to this positive outcome,” Abu Faour stressed, adding that the return of the Saudi and Kuwaiti ambassadors to Beirut was imminent.

In an interview with Al-Anbaa online newspaper, the Lebanese deputy noted that his meeting with officials in the Kingdom touched on joint French-Gulf arrangements to support social institutions, the Kingdom’s participation in the International Fund to support the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese security services, and procedures for restoring normal relations between the two sides.

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