0716 GMT January 29, 2022
Lebanon's president said on Saturday he wants good relations with Saudi Arabia, looking to heal a rift with the kingdom after it expelled Beirut's envoy and banned Lebanese imports in a diplomatic spat that risks adding to Lebanon's economic crisis.
In a tweet Michel Aoun said Lebanon is keen on having the best relations with the Saudis and on strengthening links via bilateral deals, after mounting tensions following critical comments by a Lebanese minister about the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.
The row has spurred calls by some top politicians for the resignation of Information Minister George Kordahi, while others opposed such a move, which could undermine the government as a whole, Reuters reported.
Following a near three-hour ministerial crisis meeting on Saturday, Education Minister Abbas Halabi said the government could not afford to resign over the diplomatic dispute.
Saudi Arabia expelled Lebanon's envoy and banned all Lebanese imports on Friday, and Bahrain and Kuwait followed suit, giving the top Lebanese diplomats 48 hours to exit.
Kordahi has been backed by Hezbollah and has declined to apologize or resign over the comments.
In comments made on Aug. 5, he called the Saudi-led war futile, said Yemen was subjected to an aggression and that Yemenis were defending themselves.
The Arab League said on Saturday it was concerned about a rapid deterioration of relations between Arab states and Lebanon.
In a statement quoting Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, it appealed to Persian Gulf Arab countries "to reflect on the measures proposed to be taken...in order to avoid further negative effects” on the Lebanese economy.