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Lebanon FM to boycott Arab League summit on Iran following Saudi Arabia rift

Arab foreign ministers will meet in Cairo on Sunday at the request of Riyadh. [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 November, 2017

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Lebanon's foreign minister will not attend an Arab League meeting on Sunday called by Saudi Arabia to discuss 'violations' committed by Iran in the region.

Lebanon's foreign minister will skip an Arab League meeting on Sunday called by Saudi Arabia to discuss alleged violations by Iran in the region.

Arab foreign ministers will meet in Cairo on Sunday at the request of Saudi Arabia, whose regional rivalry with Iran has escalated in recent weeks.

"This morning, a decision was taken that Lebanon would be presented by Antoine Azzam, the permanent representative to the Arab League," a Lebanese foreign ministry source said.

"Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil will not be present." 

Bassil is a part of President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, which is a political ally of Hizballah.

Lebanon's political class has been split for more than a decade between the Iranian-backed Hizballah movement and its allies and a Saudi-supported coalition led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Hariri, a dual Saudi citizen who has previously enjoyed Riyadh's backing, announced his shock resignation on 4 November in a televised address from the kingdom.

He said he feared for his life and accused Iran and its powerful Lebanese ally Hizballah of destabilising the country.

The shock announcement sparked fears that Lebanon was being caught up in rising tensions between regional arch rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The meeting of Arab ministers was called by Saudi Arabia after a missile fired from Yemen by Houthi rebels was intercepted near Riyadh earlier this month.

Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later accused Iran of "direct military aggression" against the kingdom by supplying the Houthi rebels with ballistic missiles.

Saudi Arabia's southern neighbour Yemen has been torn apart by a war between the Saudi-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 to prop up Hadi's government after the Shia Houthis seized the capital Sanaa.

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