Aoun Opens Economic Summit by Suggesting 'Arab Reconstruction Bank'

President Michel Aoun on Sunday called for establishing an "Arab bank for rebuilding conflict-afflicted Arab countries," in his speech at the opening of Beirut’s Arab Economic and Social Development Summit.

“The holding of the summit today reaffirms Lebanon's role and message and we were hoping the summit would be an occasion to unite all Arabs without the presence of vacant seats. We exerted efforts to remove the obstacles but unfortunately they were stronger than us,” Aoun said, referring to the absence of Syria and Libya.

While Syria’s membership of the Arab League is still suspended, Libya has decided to boycott the summit in protest at the removal of its flag near the summit’s venue at the hands of AMAL Movement supporters.

Threats were also voiced against the Libyan delegation by AMAL supporters and MPs and the General Security agency barred Libyan businessmen from entering Lebanon via Beirut’s airport.

Separately, Aoun called for a “safe return” for the displaced Syrians, saying such a move “should not be confined to the political solution.”

“Lebanon has paid a hefty price due to wars and terrorism and it is bearing the biggest burden regionally and internationally in hosting the displaced Syrian brothers and the Palestinian brothers,” he added.

“We are not here today to discuss the reasons behind the wars but rather their destructive impact on the economies of our countries,” the president said.

He also warned that “there are Israeli threats against Lebanon and violations of Resolution 1701 in land, sea and air,” hoping the participants’ efforts “for enhancing joint developmental work will be successful.”

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