Hariri Says New President, Govt. 'Opportunity to Revitalize Ties' with Gulfإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced Monday that the election of a new president in Lebanon and the formation of a new government represent an opportunity to “revitalize” Lebanon's ties with the Arab Gulf states.
“The assumption of the presidency by His Excellency General Michel Aoun and the new government that is being formed represent an opportunity to stress Lebanon's Arab identity and revitalize Lebanon's ties with its brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” said Hariri during a meeting at the Center House with the ambassadors of the Gulf states.
“The Lebanese have unanimously welcomed President Aoun's oath of office and all its clauses, including those related to Lebanon's Arab ties which are based on respect for the Arab League charter, especially Article 8 that stipulates non-interference by the member states in the affairs of each other,” Hariri added.
In his oath of office last Monday, Aoun also vowed to endorse “an independent foreign policy based on Lebanon's highest interest and respect for international law,” while pledging to protect Lebanon from "the fires burning across the region."
Turning to economy, Hariri said the GCC countries constitute a “vital economic space for Lebanon, because they provide job opportunities for the Lebanese, markets for their exports, sources of direct investments in Lebanon and are essential for tourism in Lebanon.”
“The Gulf governments and development funds are, as well, the first source of assistance and facilitated financing for projects of reconstruction and development in Lebanon,” he added.
“All Lebanese know this truth and feel proud and grateful to their Gulf brothers for their support. They rely on the continuation of these sincere fraternal relations at a time when they regain hope in the reactivation of all their constitutional institutions and in the formation of a government that will start to address the urgent crises afflicting Lebanon,” Hariri went on to say.
Ties between Lebanon and the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, were strained under Tammam Salam's government due to tensions between Riyadh and Iran-backed Hizbullah.
Saudi Arabia has congratulated Aoun on his election despite the unstinting support he received from Hizbullah, which Riyadh blacklisted as a "terrorist organization" in March.
Saudi Arabia's relations with both Hizbullah and its ally Iran have deteriorated sharply this year amid deep differences over the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and the unrest in Bahrain.
Earlier this year, the kingdom halted a $3 billion program of military aid to Lebanon to protest what it said was "the stranglehold of Hizbullah on the state."
It also urged its citizens to leave Lebanon and avoid travel to the country. Several other Gulf states have also issued travel warnings.