Lebanon invites Saudi for direct talk to solve diplomatic crisis

Beirut: Lebanon on Monday has called on Saudi Arabia to direct talk to resolve the current crisis between the two countries, against the background of statements issued by the Lebanese minister of information, George Kordahi, local media reported.

“Lebanon invites Saudi Arabia to engage in dialogue to solve all outstanding problems and not just the latest spat, so that the same crisis is not repeated every time,” Lebanese foreign minister Abdullah told AFP.

In an interview recorded in August and aired on October 25, Georges Kordahi said Iran-backed Houthi rebels are “defending themselves … against an external aggression”, adding that “homes, villages, funerals and weddings were being bombed” by the coalition.

The critical remarks angered Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

On Friday, October 29, Saudi Arabia gave Lebanon’s ambassador 48 hours to leave the country, recalled its envoy from Beirut and suspended all imports from Lebanon. The UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait have also taken similar steps, and this diplomatic tension threatens to exacerbate the economic crisis that Lebanon is currently going through.

On Sunday, October 31, Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said the measures were taken after insulting remarks by a Lebanese minister about the Yemeni war.

“Problems between friendly and brotherly countries can only be resolved through dialogue, communication and trust, and not through imposition,” Bou Habib told media.

Relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia have soured in the past decade as the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah expanded its influence in Beirut.

So far, George Kordahi has refused to apologize or resign because of his statements, which Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states consider insulting. Hezbollah and the Houthis expressed their support for Kordahi.

The Houthis swept the Yemeni capital, Aden, in 2014, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee.

Riyadh has led an Arab coalition in support of the Yemeni government against the Houthi rebels since 2015.

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