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Arab Economic Summit Deepens Differences Between Lebanese Political Forces

Arab Economic Summit Deepens Differences Between Lebanese Political Forces

Friday, 11 January, 2019 - 11:00
A general view shows a street hosting banks and financial institutions, known as Banks Street, in Beirut Central District, Lebanon September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi/File Photo
Beirut - Youssef Diab
Reactions continued to the call of Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to postpone the holding of the Arab Economic Summit, scheduled for Jan. 19-20 in Beirut.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, sources in the presidential palace confirmed that the summit would be held on time.

“So far, the organizing committee of the summit has not been informed of any announcement by the Arab League secretariat or any concerned authority to delay or cancel it. Therefore, the summit is still on schedule and there have been no amendments,” the sources said.

Asked whether the divergence of views would lead to a rift in the relationship between President Michel Aoun and Berri, the Baabda Palace sources stated: “We have no comment on President Berri’s position.”

Lebanese officials are counting on this summit based on three constants: to attract Arab attention to Lebanon, to boost the opportunity of Arab Gulf countries’ participation in the Cedar conference, and to revive the needed Arab investments in the wake of the current crisis.

In this regard, Minister of Economy and Trade in the caretaker government Raed Khoury ruled out any amendment to the date or place of the summit, which he considered “a political and economic opportunity for Lebanon.”

“Lebanon is part of the Arab world and the Arab League… this summit is important because it will be held in a country that enjoys a free economic system; therefore we cannot renounce it whatever the reasons marketed by some parties,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

According to financial and economic expert Dr. Marwan Iskandar, Berri and other political forces “fear that the summit would fail, because of the absence of Arab leaders, as the Arab representation is limited to ambassadors and foreign ministers.”

He added that Berri “is trying to avoid problems that may result from the absence of Syria from the summit.”

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