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Bahrain summons Lebanon envoy over Aoun remarks

FPM leader Michel Aoun speaks during a press conference in Rabieh, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (The Daily Star/Charbel Nakhoul, HO)

BEIRUT: Bahrain summoned Lebanon's Charge D'affaires Friday night over recent remarks by MP Michel Aoun’s on the ongoing protests in the Gulf country and demanded an official clarification from Beirut, in a development that could strain ties between the two countries once more.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati Saturday distanced himself from Aoun’s remarks, saying they did not reflect the stance of the Lebanese government, and stressed that the state has a policy of dissociating itself from developments in the region.

According to the Bahrain News Agency, the Foreign Ministry there summoned Ibrahim Assaf, Lebanon’s charges d’affaires, to contest Aoun’s comments which the Gulf state regarded as “interference in its internal affairs and deems as an unacceptable infringement to its sovereignty."

Aoun, speaking to an Iranian TV station Wednesday, criticized the international community and the Arab League for its lack of support to Bahraini protesters, who he said are being subjected to “injustice.”

The Bahraini News Agency said that the Bahraini undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and regional Cooperation Council and Ambassador Hamad al-Amer sent Assaf an official complaint condemning Aoun's remarks.

In his letter, Amer was quoted as stressing the importance of “taking immediate measures in these circumstances in the framework of respecting sisterly ties between the two countries and committing to the principles of noninterference" in order to preserve Arab efforts to safeguard the security and stability of Arab countries.

In the summer of 2011, Gulf Air and Bahrain Air suspended flights between Manama and Beirut for two months after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah criticized Bahrain’s monarchy for bringing in troops from neighboring Gulf countries to help put down Shiite-led protests there.

A statement released by Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry at the time said Nasrallah’s verbal “assault against Bahrain and its people” was aimed at serving foreign interests, a reference to Iran - the party’s major ally.

The Bahraini ministry urged Friday the Lebanese government to issue an official clarification of its stances with regard to Aoun’s comments.

According to Mikati's office, Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour contacted the prime minister earlier Saturday and informed him that a number of Gulf countries had lodged complaints over comments by Lebanese politicians which they regarded as interference in their internal affairs.

“The Lebanese government respects the sovereignty of other countries, particularly sisterly Arab states and their privacy and does not interfere in their internal affairs,” Mikati’s office quoted him as saying.

“It also considers that political remarks only represent the views of the politicians who make them and not that of the Lebanese government.”

Mikati also said that Lebanon has adopted the “Baabda Declaration,” which stipulates that the country distance itself from the “policy of the axes” as well as regional and international conflicts and avert the negative repercussions of the tensions and regional crises.

 

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