Lebanon foreign minister asks to quit, after offensive comments against GCC

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

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Charbel Wehbe, who is a minister in the caretaker government, suggested on Monday that Gulf states had supported the rise of Daesh, among other disparaging comments.

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

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The comments have threatened Lebanese efforts amid its deep economic crisis to improve ties with Gulf states, which have been reluctant to offer the kind of financial help they once did because of their frustration at the rising influence of Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

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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”.

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WAM reported that the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation strongly decried the derogatory and racist statements made by Charbel Wehbe against Saudi Arabia and other GCC States.

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