Lebanon ready for talks to end diplomatic row with Persian Gulf states

Lebanese top diplomat says dispute over George Kordahi's comment on Saudi campaign in Yemen 'exaggerated'.

Lebanon ready for talks to end diplomatic row with Persian Gulf states

Lebanon is ready for dialogue with the Persian Gulf states to resolve the current diplomatic crisis triggered by Lebanese information minister’s comments about the Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, the country's foreign minister said on Monday.

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow after a meeting with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Abdallah Bou Habib said it is a tradition for Lebanon to maintain friendly ties with the Gulf countries.

"Lebanon has always maintained warm relations with the countries of the Persian Gulf. Even now we maintain relations with Oman and Qatar, while the ambassador to the UAE continues his work," he said.

Calling the situation arising out of Information Minister George Kordahi's critical comments about the Saudi military campaign in Yemen "exaggerated," he said the current crisis can be resolved through dialogue.

"We believe that the issue of Kordahi is exaggerated and can be resolved through negotiations with the countries of the Persian Gulf. We count on it," he said.

Relations between Gulf nations and Lebanon strained over statements made by Kordahi on the Yemeni conflict before he took his post in the new Lebanese government.

When asked in a televised interview if he "thinks that the Houthis, like Hezbollah, are defending their land as an armed organization," Kordahi responded: "Of course they are defending themselves ... My personal opinion is that this war in Yemen needs to end. Houses, buildings, villages, and cities are being attacked by fighter jets."

Angered by Kordahi’s critical comments, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Lebanon.

In response, Kordahi said he is ready to resign "if there are guarantees that the Gulf countries will change their position towards Lebanon."

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa. A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the Yemeni government has worsened the situation and caused one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises.

Hüseyin Demir