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Friday, December 3, 2021

Hariri makes Doha visit amid efforts to form Lebanese govt


The visit to the Gulf state comes a week after Doha’s foreign minister’s made a trip to Beirut, where he met with President Michel Aoun.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani during his visit to the Gulf state on Wednesday.

During the visit, his first in years, Hariri and Al Thani looked into bilateral relations between Beirut and Doha while also discussing the current economic and social situation in Lebanon, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qatar’s foreign minister reiterated his country’s continuous support to ensure development and prosperity in Lebanon. Hariri’s visit to Qatar reportedly comes ahead of visits to neighbouring Gulf states, including the UAE and Kuwait.

Prior to his meeting, Hariri said his trip aims to gather support for crisis-hit Lebanon.

“I’m visiting Arab states and countries in the region and the world to rally support for Lebanon and mend ties, especially Arab relations, so that the solution can begin quickly once the government is formed, and it will be formed,” Hariri said, according to local Nahar Net.

Hariri’s meeting in Doha also follows Al Thani’s trip to Beirut a week ago, where the Qatari official met with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun at his official residence, in what analysts described as a “solidarity visit”.

“The Qatari Amir sends a message of support to the Lebanese people and encourages them to prioritise their national interest over their personal one,” said Al Thani during his meeting in Lebanon.

Read also: Qatar’s deputy PM makes Lebanon ‘solidarity’ visit amid political deadlock

Qatar has encouraged Lebanon to form a new government and cement relations between all of its political parties in order to “open doors for economic aid to solve the current crisis”.

Doha also made it clear that it is on good terms with all parties.

Commenting on the French initiative, the Qatari official said that his country  “will support any path that leads to forming a new government in Lebanon”, adding that its support does not seek to interfere with France’s efforts.

Lebanese journalist and political analyst, Daoud Rammal, who was in Baabda during the meeting last week, told Doha News that the Qatari minister tied aid to Lebanon with the government formation.

Qatar’s visit and the French initiative “aligns rather than interferes”, the analyst added.

Dire economic situation

Lebanon has been struggling to deal with an economic crisis as well as severe political polarisation that has hindered the country’s ability to form a new government.

Since the Diab government resigned six days after the devastating Beirut port blast on August 4th, political factions across the country have been unable to come to a consensus.

Talks for the rapid formation of a new cabinet come amid calls to revive the stalled French initiative that has been described by some as Lebanon’s only saviour. 

The Lebanese currency has also hit new lows, with banks remaining paralysed, people struggling to access their own savings, and at least half of the population facing poverty.

Local Lebanese reports have suggested that the Lebanese cabinet is awaiting Hariri’s return from his trips abroad to take on the political deadlock, with expectations that he will be charting out a political course that is expected to set the foundation to form a new government.

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