Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Abdallah Bou Habib, and Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, held a joint press conference this evening, in which they outlined the discussions that took place during the consultative meeting of the Arab foreign ministers held at Al Habtoor Hotel in Sin El Fil this morning.
Bou Habib began by expressing gratitude for “this wide Arab participation in the meeting, which was successful by all standards, thanks to the cooperation between us and His Excellency the Secretary-General of the Arab League, my brother Ahmed Aboul Gheit and his team.”
He added: “I felt from all the ministers and heads of delegations all devotion and solidarity with Lebanon in its crisis, for everyone is eager for its recovery as soon as possible…and all deemed that participating in this meeting, in itself, is a message of support and standing by Lebanon.”
Bou Habib went on: “This meeting is hosted by Lebanon in its capacity as the current head of the Arab Ministerial Council, and is dedicated to consulting on developments and challenges facing the region and the world.
He added: “I can say that the discussions that took place were to a large extent transparent, and there was an exchange of views in a responsible and serious manner, resulting in more rapprochements on several matters and practical approaches to the issues raised.”
“The continued support of the Lebanese state and its institutions was tackled, a support that has accompanied Lebanon from the Taif Accord, through the Doha Agreement, far-reaching the current Arab rally around Lebanon,” Bou Habib asserted.
He added, “Of course, it was an occasion for us to present the difficult conditions endured by Lebanon and the Lebanese and the official efforts to alleviate the citizens’ sufferings despite the burden of the crisis. We also underlined the need for adopting a new approach to the issue of the displaced Syrians that does not lead to financing their stay in host countries.”
Bou Habib continued: “The various crises witnessed by many Arab countries were discussed, in addition to the Palestinian cause, and the intransigence of the occupation and its dissipation of the foundations of a just and comprehensive solution based on the two states.”
“The convening of the Arab summit in Algeria was also discussed,” he said.
“There was a special pause on the issue of food security, the crisis in Somalia, and the drought that struck the country over successive years and its impact on agriculture, livestock and life in general, and the call was adopted to provide the necessary support to help alleviate the suffering,” Bou Habib explained.
“Finally, the views of the majority converged on the importance of the joint Arab decision to reject the politicization of international organizations in wake of the war in Ukraine,” the Lebanese Foreign Minister stated.
In turn, Aboul Gheit explained that the consultative meeting is one that takes place during the presidency of a state, and in-between the official meetings of the League Council, which convenes once at the beginning of March and again at the beginning of September. “Between these two meetings, the Arab ministers agreed to have a consultative meeting without any formalities, during which they exchange discussions on any topic, and therefore no written documents or decisions are issued at the end,” he said.
Aboul Gheit then gave a briefing on the topics raised during today’s consultative discussions.
Asked about ways to support Lebanon, he indicated that “the support is moral, because the Arab League cannot provide gas or electricity, but it can urge people to move, as it is a moral process to inform humanity that there is a problem and it must strive to solve it.”
On the issue of border demarcation, he said: “We stand with the entire Lebanese state, and the Arab League has very clear positions. Moral and legal support is fully available to the Lebanese state.”
On the softening of Lebanese-Arab relations, Aboul Gheit said: “Lebanon is fully complacent, and I listened to President Aoun, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament, and everyone said that reconciliation is on its way and that there is Gulf-Lebanese satisfaction with the relationship now, and do not forget that there are two Gulf ministers who participated in the meeting and four delegates as well. This reflects the desire of the countries to heal the rifts and establish a good relationship.”
In response to a question about Syria’s status in the Arab League, he said: “The matter will be raised for further discussion, because there are opinions that speak of a comprehensive framework for approaching the Syrian situation.”
Asked whether a solution to the Syrian displacement exists, Minister Bou Habib explained that “there are no solutions today or any decisions.”
He added, “Yes, we discussed this issue, but we are not alone. Jordan also has the problem of Syrian displacement, while Iraq welcomes them and has no problem.”
“There was a discussion, but without decisions,” he reiterated.
In response to another question about the establishment of a safe area on the Lebanese-Syrian border for the displaced Syrians, Bou Habib affirmed: “There is no such proposal, and we will not accept such a proposal, for we do not want to set up camps on our borders.”