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Arab Foreign Ministers Pledge to Support IMF Negotiations and Reform Process in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Arab foreign ministers on Saturday pledged their support for negotiations and the IMF reform process in Lebanon, following an Arab League meeting held in Beirut.

They said their presence in Lebanon in a “particularly difficult” economic and political context showed that Arab countries supported stability and supported the country’s negotiations with the IMF and the reform process.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said: “We have come to say that there is a problem and you must seek to solve it.”

He told a press conference that the meeting discussed preparations, timing and participants for the upcoming Arab League summit.

“We just had discussions and exchanged views to decide in the appropriate place. We also discussed the Ukrainian war, food, energy and the subject of Somalia, where millions of Somalis are at risk of starvation.

“We also discussed the Palestinian cause amid US-Israeli movements and how we are responding to these events. We did not agree on anything because these are only discussions that we will not reveal.

“Everyone supports an end to the pressure from Syrian refugees. The Lebanese state provides them with care but, when decisions similar to the acceptance of their return to their country are taken, certain specific circumstances must be present.

He said there was an ongoing civil war in Syria and “enormous” destruction.

“At least $500 million is needed to rehabilitate Syrian infrastructure,” he added. “These are very complex issues that cannot be solved by a simple decision. But the international community has the will to end the Syrian war and is still exerting pressure on the issue of refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and other countries.

Lebanon, which was represented by Acting Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, chaired the ministerial meeting.

Algeria will host the Arab League summit in early November after it was postponed to 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Saturday’s meeting brought together foreign ministers from Kuwait, Yemen, Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, Algeria, Comoros, Sudan, Somalia, Palestine, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and the permanent representatives of the league of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Libya, a representative of Mauritania and the ambassador of Bahrain in Syria.

The Arab ministerial delegation met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who expressed the importance of regional relations in the “critical circumstances that the Arab world is going through, the challenges it is facing, and this requires the utmost consultation and cooperation”.

He referred to the crises facing Lebanon and the burden of Syrian refugees in the country which, he said, was “no longer able to handle this reality”.

“We are seeking to reach an agreement with the IMF. There is American mediation to demarcate Lebanon’s southern maritime borders,” he said, adding that Lebanon has retained its water, oil and gas resources.

Responding to media questions on the revocation of the suspension of Syria’s membership in the Arab League, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said: “We did not support its suspension because Syria is a founding member of the league. The Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs will visit Algeria and we will approach this point with a great sense of responsibility.

The Arab ministerial delegation also met with the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, who said that Lebanon is now asking its “Arab brothers to come to the heart of its suffering”.

He told his guests that the indirect negotiations between Lebanon and Israel, with American mediation, to delimit the maritime borders for the extraction of gas were progressing.

Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati met the delegations on Friday evening.

He reiterated Lebanon’s commitment to implementing all UN Security Council and Arab League resolutions in a manner that reinforces the policy of dissociation from any Arab dispute, extends sovereignty of the State over its entire territory and prevents offending any Arab State and threatening its security.

Aboul Gheit received a political letter from the Sovereign Front for Lebanon opposing Hezbollah and Iran’s role in Lebanon.

The letter demanded “the activation of Lebanon’s right to be free from Iranian domination which uses Lebanon and its territories as a platform to carry out hostilities, putting the country in danger and exposing it to attacks from all sides”. .

He pointed to “the persistence of illegal weapons represented by Hezbollah’s organized armed militia, which receives support, orders and funding from Iran.”

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