BEIRUT: Lebanon’s disassociation policy on developments in the region should be clearly expressed by officials at international forums, President Michel Sleiman said Saturday after talks with Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour who recently stirred debate after he urged that Syria be handed back its seat at the Arab League.
“Stances taken at international forums by government officials and ministers, particularly the foreign minister, should reflect this [disassociation] policy without [causing] confusion,” Sleiman said following talks with Mansour at the Presidential Palace in Baabda.
“Such stances should be coordinated with the president, who in turn discusses them with the prime minister,” Sleiman said.
Mansour came under fire at home Wednesday after he urged Arab foreign ministers during an Arab League meeting in Cairo to reinstate Syria as a member of the regional organization.
Lebanon’s opposition, which has accused the minister of ignoring instructions from the president and prime minister over matters related to the Syria crisis, said Mansour had clearly deviated from the government’s self-avowed disassociation policy toward events in the region, particularly Syria.
Some in the opposition have urged that Mansour be held to account and dismissed from his office.
Upon his return from Cairo, Mansour defended his actions, denying they had been out of sync with the government’s policy toward Syria, adding that the proposal he put forward in Egypt had aimed at facilitating the process of reaching a political solution in Lebanon’s neighbor.
Sleiman told a delegation from the Journalists Union Thursday Mansour had “abided by government’s disassociation policy on the issue of representing the Syrian opposition in the Arab League.”
In an interview to the Kataeb-run Voice of Lebanon radio station earlier Saturday, Mansour reiterated his puzzlement over the wave of reactions to his remarks in Cairo.
“[I am surprised] over the fuss that my statement triggered because what I said was a point a view and not a political decision,” he told the radio station.
“Lebanon is committed to the self-disassociation policy and Lebanon has distanced itself from the most recent decision taken by the Arab League,” he said.
The regional organization recognized Wednesday the Syrian National Coalition, giving Damascus’ seat to the opposition group, and allowed Arab states to arm rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad.
The Arab League suspended Syria in November 2011 as a sharp rebuke for Assad's leadership over its brutal crackdown on demonstrators seeking to topple his regime.
The mounting backlash over Mansour’s remarks comes amid a warning by Arab Gulf countries that Lebanon is not abiding by its disassociation policy on the two-year-old conflict in Syria.