President Michel Aoun on Monday canceled a trip to Qatar and returned to Beirut from Saudi Arabia, where he had attended the 29th Arab League Summit in the eastern city of Dhahran.
A presidential source said that Aoun's visit had been cancelled due to “new circumstances” and “developments that forced him to return to Lebanon." Aoun had been scheduled to attend the official opening of Qatar's National Library.
The source said that Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury had been tasked with representing Aoun at the event instead, and would be departing Beirut at 1 p.m.
Qatar did not participate in the Arab summit held Sunday. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with the small Gulf nation last year, and have made the normalization of relations conditional on Qatar’s response to a list of demands.
These demands include shuttering Al-Jazeera, a state-funded broadcaster influential in the region.
The blockade was also launched, according to the states involved, to pressure Qatar to stop funding terrorism and to distance itself from Iran.
At the Arab summit, Aoun called on Arab nations to come together in order to tackle major regional challenges, such as the contested status of occupied Jerusalem and the 7-year-old conflict in Syria.
Aoun himself is at odds with the majority of Arab states present at the conference due to his alignment in Lebanon with Hezbollah – a group that supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, and that Gulf heavyweights, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have accused of fomenting instability in the region.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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