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Lebanon’s foreign minister asks to quit, after comments strained Gulf ties

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Lebanon’s caretaker foreign minister asked the president to be relieved of his duties on Wednesday, the presidency wrote on Twitter, after his comments in a television interview strained ties with his country’s traditional Gulf Arab allies and donors.

Charbel Wehbe, who is a minister in Lebanon’s caretaker government, stoked tensions with remarks on Monday that suggested Gulf states had supported the rise of ISIS and other disparaging comments.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain summoned Lebanon’s ambassadors and issued formal complaints.

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After meeting President Michel Aoun, Wehbe said he had submitted a request to step down “in light of the recent developments and the circumstances that accompanied the interview I gave to a television station."

He also met caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, saying after that discussion he hoped his decision to step down would mean relations with Arab nations remained “friendly."

“I wish success to the one who will be assigned this mission for the sake of Lebanon,” he said.

It was not immediately clear who would step in to take up the role as caretaker foreign minister.

Read more:

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UAE expresses strong disapproval of ‘disgraceful, racist’ statements of Lebanese FM

GCC asks Lebanese FM to issue formal apology for ‘unacceptable offenses’