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Gulf countries to assist Lebanon after gov't declares bankruptcy

A picture shows the closed branch of a bank in the Lebanese capital Beirut on February 18, 2022 [ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images]
A picture shows the closed branch of a bank in the Lebanese capital Beirut on February 18, 2022 [ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images]

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are to offer support to Lebanon, whose government declared the state and its Central Bank was bankrupt earlier this week.

According to a report yesterday by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida, quoting a diplomatic source, the GCC countries will provide economic aid despite the rift that took place in October last year, when comments made by Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi criticising the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, resulted in Riyadh expelling Lebanon's ambassador, recalling its own envoy and banning Lebanese imports amid the country's on-going economic crisis. Similar moves were followed by the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait in solidarity.

However, the source said that the Gulf states are supporting Lebanon as allowing it to collapse doesn't serve their interests, but added that any financial support from the Gulf will depend on political developments in the country and the upcoming general elections scheduled next month.

The initiative will coincide with the warming of relations between Beirut and the GCC following the return of their ambassadors ahead of the month of Ramadan.

READ: Lebanese crisis is among the three worst crises in the world

Since arriving in the country, Saudi Ambassador to Beirut Walid Bukhari has set up a Ramadan iftar programme, inviting a number of Lebanese personalities from across the political spectrum.

In a statement last month, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati reaffirmed the country's commitment in restoring ties with the Gulf countries, stating that he had spoken with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah.

"I renew the commitment of the Lebanese government to take the necessary and required measures to enhance cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Lebanon's commitment to all the decisions of the Arab League and international legitimacy, and its commitment to serious and actual work to follow up and complete the implementation of its provisions in a manner that guarantees civil peace and national stability for Lebanon and fortifies its unity," Mikati said in a statement.

On Monday Deputy Prime Minister Saadeh Al-Shami told the local Al-Jadeed TV channel: "The State has gone bankrupt as did the Banque du Liban, and the loss has occurred, and we will seek to reduce losses for the people."

Al-Shami's comments were dismissed by the Governor of the Central Bank, Riad Salameh, who said in a statement that "What is being circulated about the bankruptcy of the central bank is not true", insisting that the bank was still carrying out its legally-mandated role, despite the economic situation.

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