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Adnan Kassar: Riyadh-Beirut Relations Stable despite Attempts to Disturb Them | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese president Michel Aoun meets with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khaled al-Faisal inside the presidential palace in Baabda, near Beirut, Lebanon November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Beirut- Adnan Kassar, former minister and current chairman of General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture for Arab Countries, described Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries as “the backbone of the Lebanese economy”.

Kassar pinned hopes on Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s anticipated visit to Saudi Arabia on the economic and political levels, wishing that this visit turns the page over the tension in relations between Lebanon and the GCC in the past year.

Asharq al-Awsat newspaper asked, “What outcome do you expect from Aoun’s visit to Saudi Arabia?”

“It is the first foreign visit of the president since his election, heading a high-rank Lebanese delegation. The significance of the visit in this timing is important as it represents a transformation in the historic relations between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon,” Kassar replied.

He continued, “We actually have high hopes towards the outcome of this historic visit that has two major dimensions – the political one: affirming that the kingdom with its religious and Arab symbolism along with other GCC countries is still a support for Lebanon… the economic dimension: Saudi Arabia and the GCC are the backbone of Lebanese economy whether regarding transfers made by Lebanese expatriates in these countries or even the giant investment projects executed by the kingdom and Saudi investors in Lebanon.”

“How did figures show the influence of tense relations on economy?” asked Asharq al-Awsat.

Former minister stated that the “Lebanese economy underwent a first of its kind relapse in the past three years – the tense relations worsened the economic situation in which growth did not exceed 2% in 2016.”

When asked about the post-visit phase preparations, Kassar said that the anticipated visit has increased activities between businessmen in Saudi Arabia and Saudi Embassy in Beirut and this actually creates a positive atmosphere especially that Aoun’s visit falls under the reinforcement of relations between the two countries in all fields.

“What is your vision for reinforcing financial stability in Lebanon, reactivating economic growth and attracting investors and overseas capitals?” asked the newspaper.

“Due to the wise approach followed by the Central Bank of Lebanon, Lebanon has managed to maintain monetary and financial stability despite the security and political circumstances through the past years,” Kassar answered.