As Lebanon welcomed the return of the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that the country would distance itself from becoming a “platform or a source of concern” to any Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.
The statement was made by the prime minister at an iftar banquet hosted by the Saudi ambassador Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari in Beirut.
“This is the significance of the month of Ramadan, the month of mercy and solidarity, the occasion to strengthen the bonds of amicability that bind Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, and the solidarity that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and HRH the Crown Prince have been experiencing, hoping that it will be a new page towards developing relations between the two countries,” Mikati was quoted by SPA as saying.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait announced on April 7 that they would return their respective ambassadors to Lebanon after being withdrawn late 2021.
Critical comments made by former Information Minister George Kordahi on the war in Yemen in October 2021 led the expulsion of Lebanon’s envoy to the Kingdom, recalling its ambassador and banning all imports from Lebanon, dealing a new blow to the country’s ailing economy.
Other Gulf states that are historical allies of Lebanon, including the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, took similar punitive diplomatic measures.
However, the latest replacement of the ambassador comes after Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry responded to appeals from Lebanese politicians and after Mikati said his government was committed to taking the needed measures to enhance ties with Riyadh and the Gulf.
The Lebanese prime minister is expecting the reversed diplomatic move to stick through a better relationship guided by “pillars and foundations, in addition to a commitment to everything that protects Lebanon’s sovereignty.”
Former Lebanese President Michel Suleiman stressed that Lebanon “cannot remain away from the Arab League,” while former President Amin Gemayel saw the move as “hope that the next stage will be new, positive and constructive and that Lebanon will return to its previous era, open to all countries, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” according to the SPA report.