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Lebanon minister in Gulf row says could resign

By AFP - Nov 12,2021 - Last updated at Nov 13,2021


BEIRUT — A Lebanese minister whose remarks on Yemen's war sparked a row with Gulf Arab states said on Friday he would consider resigning if diplomatic measures taken against his country are dropped.

Information Minister George Kordahi criticised the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen during a pre-recorded interview that was aired on Lebanese television last month.

His remarks angered Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which responded by recalling their ambassadors from Beirut.

"I haven't heard yet of any guarantees, not from domestic nor external powers, but if these guarantees come in... then I am ready," Kordahi told reporters when asked about his possible resignation.

"I am not holding on to a ministerial position... I am not in a position to challenge anyone," Kordahi said after meeting Lebanon's parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri.

Kordahi did not specify what guarantees he was seeking but they are thought to be a rollback of the diplomatic measures taken by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies over his comments.

In addition to recalling its ambassador, Saudi Arabia banned Lebanese imports and asked the Lebanese envoy to leave the kingdom.

A security source told AFP on Wednesday that Kuwait would also limit the number of visas it issues for Lebanese nationals as a result of the spat.

The standoff, which threatens to plunge Lebanon deeper into economic meltdown, has created rifts over Kordahi's resignation, with Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement Hizbollah opposing such a move.

The Saudi foreign minister said this month that Hizbollah's dominance in Lebanon, and not just Kordahi's comments, had prompted the kingdom to take action.

More than 300,000 Lebanese live in Gulf Arab states, providing a key lifeline for its faltering economy, according to the Gulf Labour Markets and Migration think-tank.

Saudi Arabia is Lebanon's third-largest export market, accounting for six per cent of the country's exports in 2020, worth around $217 million, according to Lebanon's chamber of commerce.

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