Kuwaiti minister says Lebanon must not be platform for hostility

Comments are an indirect call for curbs on Hezbollah

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Sabah meets Lebanon's President Michel Aoun. Reuters

Lebanon must not be a platform for hostile acts or words, Kuwait's foreign minister said on Sunday during a visit to Beirut, an indirect call for curbs on the Iran-backed group Hezbollah to improve strained ties with Gulf Arab states.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Sabah spoke after meeting President Michel Aoun in Beirut, during the first visit by a senior Gulf Arab official since a diplomatic rift last year.

Sheikh Ahmed said he had delivered confidence-building proposals to Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and that his trip was coordinated with Gulf states.

“We asked that Lebanon not be a platform for any aggression, verbal or actual,” he said after meeting Mr Aoun on Sunday. “I presented ideas and thoughts and we are awaiting a response.”

Long strained by the influence of the heavily armed militant group Hezbollah, Lebanon's ties with Gulf Arab states were plunged into a new crisis in October by comments by a former Lebanese minister criticising Saudi-led forces in Yemen.

Kuwait was one of several members of the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, that responded to George Kordahi's remarks by expelling the Lebanese ambassador and recalling its envoy to Beirut.

Mr Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, said in a tweet on Sunday Lebanon was keen to maintain “the best relations” with the Gulf Arab states and that the Kuwaiti proposals would be discussed before an appropriate position was announced.

Lebanese governments have long declared an official policy of disassociation from wars in the Middle East, but Hezbollah has become involved in regional conflicts, deploying fighters to Syria to help President Bashar Al Assad.

Gulf states also accuse Hezbollah of lending military support to the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen.

Updated: January 23, 2022, 4:37 PM