Turkey offers to support talks to resolve Lebanon-GCC crisis

Turkish foreign minister meets with top Lebanese officials in Beirut, calls for dialogue to end crisis.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, left, attends a news conference with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib in Beirut [Anwar Amro/AFP]

Beirut, Lebanon – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has offered to support negotiations between Lebanon and several Gulf countries to resolve a continuing diplomatic rift.

“We are saddened by the crisis between Lebanon and the Arab Gulf countries,” Cavusoglu said after meeting Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib on Tuesday. “And we hope that the Gulf crisis will be resolved through mutual respect, dialogue, and diplomatic means. And we are ready to do our part on this matter.”

The crisis was sparked last month after video footage circulated online from an August interview in which Information Minister George Kordahi made critical remarks about the Saudi-led coalition’s war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

In response, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain recalled their envoys from Beirut and expelled their Lebanese ambassadors. Saudi Arabia also banned all Lebanese imports into the kingdom.

The Lebanese authorities have called for dialogue with their Saudi counterparts and Qatar has also offered to mediate talks between Beirut and Riyadh.

However, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud said there is no “useful purpose” in engaging with the Lebanese government for the time being.

“We think that the political class needs to step up and take the necessary actions to liberate Lebanon from the domination of Hezbollah, and through Hezbollah, Iran,” he said in a recent interview with France 24.

Cavusoglu also met President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, and Economy Minister Amin Salam and was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Najib Mikati later on Tuesday.

The Turkish foreign minister said Ankara was committed to continuing supporting Lebanon through its economic crisis, which has seen about three-quarters of its population slide into poverty, and devalued its local currency by about 90 percent.

“We visited Lebanon after the Beirut Port explosion and provided $5m in support,” Cavusoglu said after his meeting with President Aoun. “We talked about the reconstruction of the port, and affirmed that we are ready to contribute to infrastructure and superstructure.”

Cavusoglu also said Turkey was interested in increasing imports from Lebanon. Last month, Turkey sent 60 tonnes of food aid to Lebanon’s cash-strapped army.

Source: Al Jazeera