Businessmen urge Salam , Berri to fix GCC relations

Salam and Berri attend the national dialogue at the Parliament in Beirut

Leading private sector dignitaries Thursday urged Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam to visit the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to highlight Lebanon’s Arab identity and clarify its position in the recent diplomatic crises.

The delegation, headed by former Minister Adnan Kassar, met with Berri at his Ain al-Tineh residence where they discussed the importance of maintaining the best relationship possible with other Arab countries.

Kassar previously headed a delegation of private sector businessmen to the Saudi Embassy in Beirut in attempts to maintain the economic and diplomatic ties between Lebanese citizens, Saudi Arabia and all GCC members.

“We informed Berri [of] the move that the private sector intends to take, including a tour to the GCC [countries], in order to clarify our [position as Lebanese] and particularly that of the Lebanese businessmen,” Kassar said.

He also stated that the delegation called on Berri to play an important role, saying that they trusted him to find a way to mend bridges between Lebanon and the GCC. “Especially because he enjoys the trust and respect of the GCC leaders. And we suggested the possibility that Berri and Salam visit the Arab states to clarify Lebanon’s position.”

The latest meeting with Berri was one of many carried out by private sector businessmen in light of the deteriorating relations between Lebanon and the GCC countries.

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said it would punish anyone who belongs to Hezbollah, sympathizes with it, finances it or harbors its members. This came after Saudi Arabia suspended a $4 billion arms deal with Lebanon after Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil did not endorse joint statements made during Arab and Islamic meetings in January which condemned attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran the same month.

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