Kuwaiti FM meets Aoun and Miqati with ‘message of confidence’ — Naharnet

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed Al-Sabah met with President Michel Aoun in Baabda on Sunday morning, hours after arriving in Beirut and met with Prime Minister Najib Miqati.

At the end of the meeting, the Kuwaiti minister declared that he “carried a Kuwaiti, Gulf, Arab and international message containing measures and ideas to restore confidence with Lebanon”.

Lebanese officials “will not investigate it, and God willing, we will receive an answer soon,” Sheikh Ahmed said.

“Lebanon is an arena of hope for everyone, not an arena of aggression. We demanded that Lebanon not be a platform for any verbal or real aggression. It should be a shining element and a special icon in the Arab Levant and there is no tendency to interfere in the affairs of Lebanon,” the minister added.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib will visit Kuwait at the end of the month, Sheikh Ahmed said.

Miqati was also invited to visit the oil-rich emirate, he added, without specifying a date.

Sheikh Ahmed’s visit is the first by a senior Gulf official to Beirut since an unprecedented diplomatic row between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and its neighbors erupted in October.

The crisis was sparked by televised remarks by Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi in which he called the war in Yemen futile and an assault on the Saudi-led coalition.

Following Kordahi’s comments, the kingdom recalled its ambassador from Beirut and banned all Lebanese imports, affecting hundreds of businesses and cutting off hundreds of millions of foreign currency from Lebanon. Several Arab countries have followed in Saudi Arabia’s footsteps.

Kordahi, who made his comments before taking office, resigned in December but the move did not lead to an improvement in relations between the two sides.

The crisis goes deeper than Kordahi’s comments aired in late October. It is rooted in Saudi Arabia’s unease with Iran’s growing influence in the region, including in Lebanon, once a traditional Saudi ally and recipient of financial aid from the oil-rich kingdom.

Sheikh Ahmed told reporters after meeting Miqati that his visit to Beirut was part of international efforts for confidence-building measures with Lebanon.

He added that such confidence-building measures do not happen “overnight, but should be the result of tangible measures felt by all parties.” He added that on this basis “things will move forward”.

The Kuwaiti official said he handed over the demands to Miqati and his Lebanese counterpart Bou Habib and “now the brothers in Lebanon should study them and know how to handle these issues and move forward.” He declined to specify what the demands are.

In the weeks following Kordahi’s resignation, tensions between Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia continued to mount.

At the end of December, King Salman of Saudi Arabia called on the Lebanese in a speech “to put an end to the control of the terrorist Hezbollah” over Lebanon.

In early January, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah launched a verbal attack on the kingdom, accusing Riyadh of spreading hardline Islamic ideology.

A few days later, several Saudi Shia opposition figures held a conference at a Hezbollah stronghold on the outskirts of Beirut during which they criticized the kingdom.

Sheikh Ahmed said that for the initiative to succeed, there should be no interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries in general, and in particular the Gulf states. Lebanon must “not be used as a springboard for oral or active aggression against a country”, he added.

Miqati’s office said the prime minister told the Kuwaiti guest that Beirut wants excellent relations with all Gulf states.

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