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Lebanon crisis

US says it understands Saudi Arabia’s concerns after Lebanon rift, calls for dialogue

“The notion that the Houthis have been anything but a destabilizing force and a force that has inflicted additional hardship on the people of Yemen, that is not an idea that we recognize,” the US official said.

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The US said Wednesday that it understood Saudi Arabia’s concerns after Lebanon’s information minister voiced support for the Iran-backed Houthis in the yearslong Yemen war.

Nevertheless, Washington called on Riyadh and the Gulf to restore ties with Beirut, citing its unprecedented struggles.

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“Our position is that diplomatic channels should remain open if we are to seek to improve the humanitarian conditions of the Lebanese people,”

State Department Spokesman Ned Price said during a briefing with reporters.

Price said the US would continue to support Lebanon in the midst of its economic crisis.

He refused to comment on whether Information Minister George Kordahi should step down after his pro-Houthi comments were aired last week.

But Price criticized the Houthis for refusing to play a positive role in reaching a ceasefire in Yemen.

“The notion that the Houthis have been anything but a destabilizing force and a force that has inflicted additional hardship on the people of Yemen, that is not an idea that we recognize,” the US official said.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati as well as Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s foreign ministers.

The row over critical comments made by Kordahi about the Arab Coalition’s military intervention in Yemen threw the country into a new crisis.

Saudi Arabia gave Lebanon’s ambassador 48 hours to leave the country and recalled its envoy to Beirut last week after Kordahi’s comments were aired.

Riyadh also ordered the immediate halt to all Lebanese imports.

Bahrain, Kuwait followed suit by asking the top Lebanese diplomats in their countries to leave, while the UAE pulled its diplomats from Beirut.

Read more: As Lebanese pound loses 90 pct of value, citizens carry ‘worthless’ stacks of cash