BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with a delegation from the Economic Committees Sunday and discussed the need to distance the country from the turmoil in Syria and preserve the interests of expatriates.
According to Hariri’s office, Hariri and the delegation “stressed on the importance of distancing Lebanon as much as possible from the effects of the Syrian crisis as well as the need to stop placing Lebanon's interests and those of the Lebanese at risk.”
They also agreed that politicians should adopt “rational political speech toward Gulf states that have and still represent a safety valve for Lebanon’s security, growth and development.”
Ties between the Gulf Corporation Council and Lebanon have been shaky in recent weeks after remarks by MP Michel Aoun on the uprising in Bahrain sparked the ire of the organization and led it to describe his remarks as interference in Manama’s affairs.
The GCC last week sent a letter to President Michel Sleiman voicing its extreme concern over Lebanon’s failure to implement its policy of disassociation from events in the region.
Saudi Arabia denied Sunday that it was considering pulling out investments from Lebanon or that it planned to take certain measures against Lebanese expatriates working there.
During the meeting in Hariri’s Riyadh residence with the delegation headed by former Minister Adnan Kassar, the head of the Future Movement praised the role of the economic committees which he said had contributed to the resilience of the Lebanese economy and the maintenance of growth despite the local and regional circumstances.
He urged the committees to continue in the role, describing the private sector as the backbone of the Lebanese economy's developments and prosperity.
The two sides also discussed the current political, economic and security situation in the country and affirmed the need to strengthen national unity in this critical phase that Lebanon is going through as a result of tensions in the Arab region and hold the June elections on time.
In a bid to contain the recent outbreak of tension with the GCC, a delegation from the March 14 coalition visited a number of ambassadors and heads of GCC missions in Lebanon Monday.
According to the National News Agency, the delegation discussed the memo the GCC sent to Sleiman and were told that Gulf States are keen on maintaining unity and peace in Lebanon and embracing Lebanese working there.
MPs Marwan Hamadeh, Fadi Karam and Jamal Jarrah criticized practices and stances of Hezbollah and its allies in Syria and in the Arab world.
The delegation also condemned statements by ministers including Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour's remarks last week to the Arab League which it said were “harmful to the interests of Lebanese and Lebanon.”
In a meeting at the Cairo-based regional organization, Mansour urged the league to reinstate Syria in order to resolve the crisis there via a political solution. Damascus’ membership was suspended in November of 2011 months after the uprising against President Bashar Assad began.