The Saudi foreign minister underlined that a decisive initiative from Beirut is essential to solving the economic meltdown and corruption.

Saudi Arabia's FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan says a
Saudi Arabia's FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan says a "short-term panacea" would not help Lebanon. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Saturday Lebanon must offer stronger signals that it is serious about reform to secure support from the international community as it struggles with a financial crisis.

"Lebanon first needs to be actively saving itself ... We need a stronger signal from the Lebanese body politic that they are going to step up," Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said at the Munich Security Conference.

He said this included first stabilising the economy and then addressing issues of corruption and mismanagement as well as "regional interference and loss of state sovereignty."

Lebanon's ties to the Arab Gulf and particularly Saudi Arabia, formerly a major donor to Beirut, hit rock bottom last year over what the Saudi foreign minister said was the growing influence of Iran-allied Hezbollah in the country.

Kuwait last month presented to Beirut a list of Gulf terms for thawing relations after Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states expelled Lebanese ambassadors and recalled their own.

"If there is a true initiative to reform the economic structure, reform the governance structure, reform the way the economy is managed, then I think you can call on the regional states to offer all kinds of support," Prince Faisal said, mentioning technical and economic support as well as developmental aid.

He said a "short-term panacea" would not help Lebanon, which went into financial meltdown in 2019 under the weight of huge public debts, slicing more than 90 percent off the local currency's value and plunging a majority of the population into poverty.

READ MORE: Kuwait lists suggestions to Lebanon to mend Gulf row

Lebanon to prosecute anti-Bahraini group

Separately on Saturday Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said he asked the authorities to prosecute the organisers of a symposium held by a banned Bahraini group in the capital Beirut.

On Tuesday, Al Wefaq Society held a symposium in Beirut to mark the anniversary of opposition protests that erupted against the ruling regime in Bahrain in 2011.

In a statement, Mawlawi urged the Public Prosecution “to prosecute the organisers and speakers at the symposium."

He said the group targeted “the Bahraini authorities in particular and the Gulf countries in general, and did not obtain a prior administrative approval in accordance with legal principles."

The symposium also contributed to "obstructing the official Lebanese mission to strengthen relations with the Arab Gulf states," he added.

The interior minister had previously prohibited the symposium from taking place earlier this week in a hotel in Beirut. However, organisers moved on with their plan to hold the event in another hall in the same area.

On December 12, Bahrain announced that it had lodged a "strongly worded" protest with the Lebanese government, saying Beirut was hosting a conference “hostile” to Manama.

A diplomatic crisis erupted in October between Lebanon and a number of Gulf states, including Bahrain, following criticism of the Yemen conflict by then-Information Minister George Kordahi.

Last month, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al Mohammad al Sabah visited Leb anon in an effort to mend its standoff with the Gulf countries.

READ MORE: Lebanon's former PM Saad Hariri quits politics

Source: Reuters