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Berri urges Gulf states to lift Lebanon travel warnings

  • Berri gifts a picture of a traditional Phoenicianboat to Sheikh Sabah. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Parliament Website, HO)

BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called on Gulf States to remove travel advisories for Lebanon, as he held talks Sunday with his Kuwaiti counterpart Marzouk al-Ghanem and Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. “I hope efforts are made to lift the travel ban to Lebanon for our brothers in the Gulf,” Berri said during his talks with the emir.

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have renewed their advisories warning Gulf citizens against traveling to Lebanon due to the unstable security situation.

Berri, who is currently in Kuwait for a two-day visit as part of his tour of the Gulf, hailed the “ongoing initiatives” by Kuwait to support Lebanon and renewed his invitation for the emir to visit the country.

He also called for strengthened unity among Muslims and expressed hope that the emir would work for a rapprochement between Iran and the Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, saying that such a breakthrough would have a positive impact on the entire region.

Berri also discussed the condition of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon with the emir and Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

For his part, the Kuwaiti emir said his country would do everything in its power to “assist and support Lebanon in various areas.”

Berri reiterated his stances during a news conference with Ghanem at the Kuwaiti parliament.

“There is no such thing as the Shiite religion or the Sunni religion, there is only one religion called Islam ... and all the conspiracies prevailing in the region to divide Muslims aim to confiscate our wealth,” Berri said.

“We realize today that our brethren in Lebanon need us to stand by them and support them and be partners in building their future, and I assure you that there is no boycott imposed by any Gulf state, including Kuwait, about visiting Lebanon, and we will consider making this visit when the security situation stabilizes,” Ghanem said in response to Berri’s invitation to visit Lebanon.

“I congratulate you on the formation of the Lebanese Cabinet and we wish Lebanon a better future, because when the public interests transcend partisan or sectarian interests, the outcome will always be positive,” he added.

Berri’s visit comes before the Arab summit to be held in Kuwait City on March 25.

Kuwait is the first among many countries Berri is expected to visit during his tour. He will also travel to Iran, Germany and then Albania.

Berri is expected to hold meetings with senior Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Sources told the Central News Agency that Berri’s visit to Iran “will be an important stop which might influence several local issues.”

At the beginning of last year, Kuwait hosted an international conference that generated at least $2.4 billion in pledges from donors to alleviate the suffering of Syrians affected by their country’s civil war.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 17, 2014, on page 5.
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Summary

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called on Gulf States to remove travel advisories for Lebanon, as he held talks Sunday with his Kuwaiti counterpart Marzouk al-Ghanem and Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Berri, who is currently in Kuwait for a two-day visit as part of his tour of the Gulf, hailed the "ongoing initiatives" by Kuwait to support Lebanon and renewed his invitation for the emir to visit the country.

Berri also discussed the condition of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon with the emir and Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Kuwait is the first among many countries Berri is expected to visit during his tour.


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