Kassar warns against harming ties with GCC

Head of the economic committees Adnan Kassar, speaks during the Saudi-Lebanese Economic Forum in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, March 1, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: The head of the Economic Committees stressed during talks with President Michel Sleiman Thursday that Lebanon needed to maintain strong ties with Arab states, particularly in the Gulf, after the Gulf Cooperation Council warned that Beirut was failing at its disassociation policy.

“We discussed the issue of the warning from the Gulf Cooperation Council to Lebanon after the meeting between President Sleiman and [GCC] Secretary-General Dr. Abdel-Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani,” Adnan Kassar said following the talks with Sleiman at Baabda Palace.

“I underlined to President Michel Sleiman ... the need to preserve the best of ties with our Arab sisters, particularly Gulf states, in light of the repercussions that we will face as a result of any decision taken by the Gulf states toward Lebanon, whether on Lebanon’s economy ... or in terms of the Lebanese working in Gulf countries,” he added.

In a letter presented to Sleiman by Zayani on behalf of the GCC, the Gulf Arab states voiced “extreme concerns” that Lebanon was failing to abide by its disassociation policy toward regional conflicts.

The letter, according to Sleiman’s office, said the “GCC voiced its extreme concern [over Lebanon] not committing to the Baabda Declaration and the policy of disassociation.”

“The council,” the letter stated, “looks to [Lebanon] to abide by the policy in words and actions in order to prevent placing Lebanon’s security and stability at risk or affecting the interests of its people and their security.”

Lebanon has a self-avowed policy of disassociating itself from regional unrest. Rival Lebanese leaders also agreed during a National Dialogue session in 2011 to abide by what is known as the “Baabda Declaration,” which calls for Lebanon to distance itself from regional and international conflicts.

Sleiman has urged all politicians to commit to the principles of the Baabda Declaration and avoid meddling in Arab countries’ affairs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 08, 2013, on page 5.




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