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Lebanon FM seeks to quit after 'insulting' Gulf states

Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe in Beirut, Lebanon on 14 August 2020 [ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images]
Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe in Beirut, Lebanon on 14 August 2020 [ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images]

Lebanon's foreign minister asked the president to be relieved of his duties today, the presidency said, after his comments in a television interview strained ties with traditional Gulf Arab allies and donors, Reuters reported.

Charbel Wehbe, who is a minister in the caretaker government, suggested on Monday that Gulf states had supported the rise of Daesh, among other disparaging comments.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain summoned Lebanon's ambassadors and issued formal complaints against the "insulting" remarks.

The comments have threatened Lebanese efforts amid its deep economic crisis to improve ties with Sunni Muslim Gulf states, which have been reluctant to offer the kind of financial help they once did because of their frustration at the rising influence of Hezbollah, a Lebanese group backed by Shia Iran.

After meeting President Michel Aoun, Wehbe said he had submitted a request to step down "in light of the recent developments and the circumstances that accompanied the interview I gave to a television station".

He had apologised yesterday, saying he did not mean to offend "brotherly Arab countries".

READ: Israel injures 5 Lebanese along Lebanon-Israel border

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