Lebanon's Mikati to visit Saudi Arabia 'soon': minister

Lebanon's Mikati to visit Saudi Arabia 'soon': minister
2 min read
11 December, 2021
Mikati's visit to Egypt this week takes his country closer towards restoring ties with the Arab states following a rift that saw Gulf countries boycott Lebanon, a Lebanese official has said.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati may be visiting Riyadh 'soon' [Getty]

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati may be visiting Riyadh "soon", according to Lebanese Minister of Agriculture Abbas Hajj Hassan, who told a local TV station on Friday.

Mikati's visit to Egypt this week takes his country closer towards restoring ties with the Arab states following a rift that saw Gulf countries boycott Lebanon, Hajj Hassan revealed in an interview with Hezbollah-linked Al Manar TV.

The dispute was triggered by comments made by Hezbollah-backed Lebanese former Information Minister George Kordahi in an interview taped in August - before he took office - and broadcast in late October.

Kordahi, who subsequently resigned earlier this month, characterised the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen since 2015 as an "external aggression", sparking rebukes from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The diplomatic rift, which threatens to plunge Lebanon deeper into economic meltdown, prompted Saudi Arabia and some of its allies to recall ambassadors and block imports from Lebanon.

On December 4, Mikati said that a call he had with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was an "important step" towards restoring relations with the Gulf.

Following his statement, Saudi newspaper Okaz described the call as "a dream", highlighting that the prime minister was powerless getting his government to convene amid Hezbollah's control over the country. "It remains too early to know the direction that the relations between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon will take," the paper concluded.

A source close to Mikati told The New Arab's Arabic-language site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that "Mikati knows that the path to resolving the Gulf-Lebanon crisis will not be not easy", adding that the Lebanese prime minister "realises that the crisis was caused by bigger issues than just a statement made by Kordahi."

Lebanon is in urgent need of international aid, particularly from its wealthy Arab neighbours, to lift it out of the financial and political quagmire.