Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon Waleed bin Abdullah Bukhari received Lebanese caretaker Minister of Interior Mohammed Fahmi amid tensions stoked by comments made by foreign minister Charbel Wehbe, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.
During a television interview aired earlier this week, Wehbe had suggested that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states had supported the rise of ISIS in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
“Those countries of love, friendship and fraternity, they brought us ISIS,” Wehbe told al-Hurra.
Lebanon’s interior minister condemned Wehbe’s statements, saying: “As the current Minister of Interior in the caretaker government and as a retired brigadier general in the Lebanese Army, I confirm that Wehbe’s words about Nineveh, Palmyra, and Al Anbar are completely untrue.”
“The assistance provided by the Kingdom to the Lebanese Army and the security forces had helped these forces to overcome the obstacles we faced during the fight against terrorism,” Fahmi added.
The Lebanese presidency had on Wednesday announced that the country’s foreign minister asked the president to be relieved of his duties.
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.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain had on Tuesday summoned Lebanon’s ambassadors and issued formal complaints.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its strong condemnation and denunciation “of the disgraceful insults that [his] statements contained towards the Kingdom, its people and the brotherly Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries,” SPA reported.
“Given the repercussions that these disgraceful statements may have on the relations between the two brotherly countries, the Ministry summoned the Ambassador of the Lebanese Republic to the Kingdom to express the Kingdom’s rejection and denunciation of the abuses issued by the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he was handed an official memorandum of protest in this regard,” SPA added.