BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam offered an ambiguous position towards the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen during the Arab League summit in Sharm el-Sheikh Saturday, saying Beirut supported any move that preserves Sanaa's “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Out of its keenness on supporting constitutional legitimacy in Yemen and [supporting] Arab consensus and the unity and stability of all Arab states, [Lebanon] announces its support for any Arab stance that preserves Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in addition to the cohesion of its social fabric,” Salam said at the close of Saturday’s session.
Addressing a drowsy audience, Salam was the last speaker of the night, voicing Lebanon’s support for a political settlement to resolve the internal disputes in Yemen. Such a solution, he said, must be independent of any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Arab states.
In line with Lebanon’s policy of dissociation from regional conflicts, the premier called on the Arab League to distance his country from “all regional struggles that may have a negative impact on the situation in Lebanon.”
But he did not explicitly voice his support or rejection of the Saudi-led military actions launched Thursday against Houthi targets in Yemen, largely echoing a speech made by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil two days earlier in Egypt in which little was revealed.
Salam also lamented the absence of a Lebanese president, saying the 10-month long vacuum has disrupted political institutions and hampered the economy.
While Salam maneuvered carefully around the issue of the Yemen, he was direct in his support for the proposed creation of a joint Arab force to confront terrorism in the region.
Bassil, during his speech at the Arab foreign ministers conference in Sharm el-Sheikh Thursday, also said that Lebanon “did not oppose the idea of forming an Arab military force.”
“Maybe Lebanon will benefit from it [one day], God forbid,” he added, speaking on the sidelines of the conference.
Salam arrived to Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh Saturday morning to head the Lebanese delegation participating in the annual summit.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi briefly met with the Lebanese premier in the airport’s VIP lounge, alongside Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby.
Salam also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, on the sidelines of the summit.