Lebanon’s answer to Gulf terms for thawing relations will be studied: Kuwait

Kuwait said on Sunday that Gulf Arab states will study Lebanon’s response to their terms for thawing relations, which have suffered over Iran-backed Hezbollah’s growing power in Beirut and the region.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah, at a news conference after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers, did not give any details of Lebanon’s response, a draft of which had sidestepped the issue of disarming Hezbollah.

“We received the response… it will be studied by the relevant authorities in Kuwait and in the Gulf to determine what the next step is with Lebanon,” Sheikh Ahmad said.

He thanked Beirut “for interacting” with the demands, which he said was a positive step.

The terms delivered to Beirut on Jan. 22 include setting a timeframe for implementing UN Security Council resolutions, among them Resolution 1559 which was adopted in 2004 and calls for the disarmament of non-state militias in Lebanon.

The Lebanese draft letter had expressed respect for UN resolutions “to ensure civil peace and national stability” and said that Lebanon “will not be a launchpad for activities that violates Arab countries”.

Lebanon’s foreign minister said on Friday he was not going “to hand over” Hezbollah’s weapons during the meeting in Kuwait and that implementing resolution 1559 “will take time”.

Hezbollah supports Iran in its regional struggle for influence with US-allied Gulf Arab states, which say the group has aided the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in the Yemen war.

Hezbollah has a militia more powerful than Lebanon’s army and has backed pro-Iran allies in the region, including in Syria. The group and its allies also exercise major sway over Lebanese state policy.

The Gulf rift has added to difficulties facing Lebanon as it struggles with a financial crisis. Ties hit new lows last year when Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states expelled Lebanese ambassadors and recalled their own.

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