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Aoun: Bahrain remarks not interference, just advice

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

BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun denied Tuesday accusations of meddling in the affairs of Bahrain, saying his comments on the events in the Gulf country was mere “advice.”

“My comments were not aimed at interfering in foreign affairs. However, It was advice on how to solve the problem,” Aoun said following the weekly meeting of the Change and Reform bloc in Rabieh.

Addressing an Iranian TV station last week, Aoun criticized the international community and the Arab League for its lack of support of Bahraini protesters, calling their predicament an “injustice.”

His remarks prompted several complaints from Arab Gulf states.

Days after the interview with Aoun, who heads a bloc of 10 ministers in the 30-member Cabinet, Bahrain summoned Lebanon’s charge d’affaires and requested clarification.

On Monday, according to the Emirates News Agency, Secretary-General of the Gulf Corporations Council Abdel-Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani also handed Lebanon’s Ambassador Munir Anouti a letter on behalf of Gulf countries contesting Aoun’s remarks.

The letter said that the comments of Aoun, Hezbollah’s primary Christian ally in Lebanon, reflected “a vision, interests and ties that have become known to everyone” and contradict the reality in the small kingdom.

Aoun, who heads a bloc of 10 ministers in the 30-member Cabinet, justified Tuesday his remarks on Bahrain saying that he did not call for an armed revolution in the Gulf country and had only voiced support to the protest movement there.

“What I said was that the peaceful Bahraini [protest] movement deserves a chance in the world. I did not call for armament in the country or for an armed revolution,” said Aoun.

In a bid to avoid a row between Lebanon and Bahrain, Prime Minister Najib Mikati phoned his Bahraini counterpart Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Sunday to clarify his country’s position.

During the conversation, Mikati underscored that Lebanon would not interfere in Bahrain’s internal affairs and stressed that Aoun’s remarks did not reflect the government’s official stance.

 

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