Kuwait warns bilateral ties could sour over Lebanese minister’s comments

A new row has emerged between Kuwait and Lebanon following Lebanon caretaker Economy Minister Amin Salam’s comments about rebuilding a portion of Beirut’s port.

On Saturday, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah criticised Salam’s comments made on Wednesday, when the minister urged Kuwait to rebuild Lebanon’s main wheat silos, a decision he said could be made with “the stroke of a pen”.The silos were built in 1969 with a grant from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development but were destroyed during the Beirut port blast of 2020.

Al-Sabah said Salam’s comments were “incompatible” with political norms on how decisions were made and called on him to retract them in order to protect bilateral ties.

Salam, in turn, said he meant no offence by his comments and rather was referring to how quickly the decision could be taken, Lebanese media quoted him saying.

Lebanese-Gulf relations soured in 2021 when Lebanon’s then-information minister criticised the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. Kuwait was among the Gulf countries to withdraw their envoys to Lebanon, only having them return in 2022.Kuwait’s response occurred just a day after Lebanon marked three years since the catastrophic blast on August 4, 2020 that destroyed many parts of the Lebanese capital, killing more than 220 people and injuring at least 6,500 others.

Separately, Kuwait on Saturday urged its citizens in Lebanon to stay vigilant as clashes continued in the largest Palestinian refugee camp in the country, Ein el-Hilweh. Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Lebanon urged its citizens to leave the country as soon as possible.

Following the advisory measures, caretaker Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati reassured the Gulf countries later Saturday their citizens in Lebanon were safe.

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