Lebanon FM Opts Out of Saudi-Initiated Arab League Summit
Islam times - Lebanon's foreign minister has opted out of an extraordinary Arab League meeting on Sunday called by Saudi Arabia to discuss alleged "violations" committed by Iran.
Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo, but a Lebanese Foreign Ministry source has said that Gebran Bassil would not be among them.
"This morning, a decision was taken that Lebanon would be presented by Antoine Azzam, the permanent representative to the Arab League," the source said.
"Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil will not be present."
Egypt's state news agency MENA said the Arab League meeting on Sunday was convened at the Saudi request with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss means of confronting what they deemed as Iranian intervention.
Bassil has been shuttling across Europe to mobilize support for the return of Prime Minister Saad Hariri whose surprise resignation in Saudi Arabia has plunged the country into political turmoil.
Hariri stepped down from his post on November 4 in a televised address from Riyadh, sparking speculations he has been forced by Saudi rulers to step down. Hariri and his wife traveled to France on Saturday but two of his sons did not accompanied them, with some analysts saying they may have been held hostage by Saudi rulers.
Sources close to Hariri say he has been forced to step down for “refusing to confront Hezbollah” as demanded by Saudi leaders.
Riyadh associates Hezbollah with Iran, and has been trying to weaken the resistance movement which is Lebanon's de facto deterrent force against any Israeli aggression.
Hezbollah, both a military force and a political movement, is part of a Lebanese government made up of rival factions.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage. Senior Lebanese politicians close to Hariri have also said he was coerced into resigning.
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