Lebanese Speaker Proposes Postponing Arab Economic Summit in Beirut

Lebanese Speaker Proposes Postponing Arab Economic Summit in Beirut

Wednesday, 9 January, 2019 - 20:15
Lebanese parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. (NNA)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri proposed on Wednesday the postponement of the Arab League economic summit in Beirut later this month because of Lebanon’s ongoing failure to form a new government.

Berri also asserted "again the necessity of having Syria participate in such a summit", lawmakers from his parliamentary bloc quoted him as saying at a meeting.

The Arab League suspended Syria's membership seven years ago after the government crackdown on mass protests against regime leader Bashar Assad.

Some Arab states, including ones that had backed opposition factions, are now seeking to reconcile with Assad's state, which has recovered most of the country with Russian and Iranian help, reported Reuters.

Assad's Lebanese allies, including Berri and Iran-backed Hezbollah fighting alongside the Syrian regime, have ramped up calls for Syria to join the summit. The issue remains very divisive in Lebanon with many blocs opposing the normalization of ties with Damascus.

The Lebanese presidency seemed to be pressing ahead with plans to host the summit in Beirut, inviting journalists on Wednesday to apply for accreditation in time.

President Michel Aoun said earlier this week that the Jan. 19-20 event would be held on time even if a new government had not been formed by then.

The lack of a cabinet has caused particular concern because Lebanon faces both structural economic problems and regional instability.

The International Monetary Fund has stressed the importance of Lebanon putting its debt on a sustainable footing, while bond yields and the cost of insuring against Lebanese sovereign debt have shown signs of stress in recent months.

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