Hariri Urges Preserving Ties with Gulf, Respecting 1701 as Cabinet Discusses Budget

Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday called for preserving Lebanon’s ties with Gulf countries and for respecting international resolutions, especially U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.

“Lebanon’s immunity is preserved through its excellent relations with the Arab world, topped by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which President Michel Aoun has rightfully described as the leader of the confrontation against terrorism and extremism,” Hariri said at the beginning of a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail.

“Lebanon is to be protected through the consensus we’re living and the embracement of the state and its institutions,” the PM added.

Hariri’s remarks come a day after Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accused Saudi forces of “oppressing and killing the Bahraini people” as he slammed Bahrain’s government over its crackdown on Shiite-led dissent.

Nasrallah also blasted Saudi Arabia and the UAE over their military campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed rebels.

“We stress the need to safeguard the special ties with the brotherly countries, especially with the Arab Gulf states, including the UAE which hosts tens of thousands of Lebanese citizens,” Hariri said.

“Lebanon and the Lebanese should also be protected from foreign threats through the policy of the president and government which is based on respecting international treaties and resolutions, topped by Resolution 1701,” the premier went on to say.

Aoun had recently stirred controversy by announcing that Hizbullah’s weapons “do not contradict with the State.”

As for the issue of the draft state budget, which is the focus of the Cabinet’s latest sessions, Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan said the Cabinet is supposed to discuss the state budget “item by item” during Friday’s session.

“We must seek a new taxation system that is based on the progressive tax system,” Hajj Hassan added.