EXCLUSIVE: Lebanese government is against any activities hostile to Gulf countries, says PM Hariri

EXCLUSIVE: Lebanese government is against any activities hostile to Gulf countries, says PM Hariri

By Binsal Abdulkader

ABU DHABI, 7th October 2019 (WAM) – The Lebanese government is against any activities hostile to the Arabian Gulf countries, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, in an exclusive interview.

"I want to emphasise as head of the government [that] I refuse any form of Lebanese involvement in the conflicts around us. Moreover, I stress that the Lebanese government refuses to intervene or participate in activities of any organisation that is hostile to the Arabian Gulf countries," he said in response to a question about the activities of Hezbollah in the region.

"The Lebanese government has taken a decision to disassociate itself from external conflicts and interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. However, this decision is regrettably violated, not by the government but by a political side represented in the government," said the prime minister who reached Abu Dhabi last night.

Hariri affirmed that "Hezbollah should be accused in its capacity as component of a regional system and not as a party" in his government.

"Lebanon is an integral part of the Arab world, and its stability is governed by the overall stability and security of the Arab world, especially in political and economic spheres," he stressed.

Hariri is leading a delegation, including six ministers and other top officials, to attend the second UAE-Lebanon Investment Forum to be held in Abu Dhabi today.

Held under the auspices of the UAE Ministry of Economy and Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the forum will have several sessions and workshops that bring UAE investors together with their Lebanese counterparts.

"There will be discussions with high-ranking officials about the situation in the region," the prime minister said.

This official visit is also an opportunity to meet with Lebanese expatriates in the UAE, who constitute the largest Lebanese community in the Arabian Gulf, Hariri said.

"We look at them as a strategic asset for Lebanon and the UAE. It is very important for both countries to find ways to efficiently use the Lebanese diaspora’s networks in Africa and other regions. I believe that this is a great asset that could benefit both Lebanon and the UAE," he explained.

Hariri said that he appreciates how the Gulf has embraced the Lebanese talents, adding that this region has become a vital area for Lebanese professionals, businessmen and other stakeholders.

The Gulf countries have considered Lebanon as an Arab oasis and a centre of attraction for business and capital, and these factors have proved the depth of common interests of Lebanon and the Gulf, the prime minister pointed out.

The Arabian Gulf offers strategic support to the security of Lebanon, Riyadh-born Hariri said, adding that the UAE leadership gives utmost importance to the security and stability of Lebanon.

"We look forward to the best relations with the United Arab Emirates," he said.

About the 17th September drone attacks on two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, he said, "It was a reckless step that put the Arabian Gulf and regional peace on the brink of explosion and led to a rise in the level of tension in the region.

"We in Lebanon are betting on the wisdom of the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has managed to shed light on the premeditated goals of aggression, and has not been dragged into the provocative attempts made by the other side."

He suggested political solution through dialogue to deal with the situation and "international community should be called upon to shoulder its responsibilities in this regard to stop the interference in Arab internal affairs," he explained.

The prime minister expressed hope that the investment forum would help attract the UAE investments to Lebanon, especially in four key sectors: food, infrastructure, oil and gas, and renewable energy.

"We are going to discuss with the officials how Lebanon can help meet the objectives of food security strategy in the UAE," the prime minister revealed.

A large team with Hariri will present various investment opportunities in oil and gas sector. There will be serious discussions on renewable energy sector and other related projects, he said.

About the infrastructure sector, Hariri said Lebanon had presented a capital investment programme at the CEDRE, which is the international conference in support of Lebanon development and reforms, in Paris in 2018, to develop the infrastructure of his country with an investment of US$17 billion in the coming eight to ten years.

"We hope that by presenting some of our projects, we could attract UAE investments into this sector," the prime minister concluded.