BEIRUT — U.S. President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman affirmed their support for Lebanon’s “sovereignty, security and stability,” during the Jeddah summit Saturday, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Here’s what we know:
• In a joint statement, the two men “noted the importance of forming a government and implementing structural and global reforms in politics and economy so that Lebanon can overcome its crisis and not constitute a launchpad for terrorists, drug trafficking and criminal activities which threaten its stability the region’s security.”
• The two leaders called on the Lebanese government to “exert its control over the entirety of its territory and to apply UN security council resolutions and the Taif accord [which ended the country’s 1975-1990 civil war],” while urging authorities to “exert the entirety of its sovereignty so that there are no weapons other than those of the Lebanese state,” an allusion to Hezbollah’s arsenal.
• Lebanon’s ties with Gulf states were restored in April after a period of diplomatic crisis, sparked in October 2021 by then-Information Minister George Kurdahi’s comments on Saudi intervention in Yemen, along with Gulf states’ rejection of Hezbollah’s role in the region and accusations of drug smuggling from Lebanon.
• Lebanon, which has been in an economic crisis since 2019, relies heavily on foreign aid. In December, 2021, a French-Saudi fund to support Lebanon was launched following a summit between French President Emmanuel Macron and the Saudi crown prince. The U.S. is a major supplier of the Lebanese army, allocating millions of dollars worth of equipment and materials yearly.
• During the Jeddah summit Saturday, Joe Biden shared his vision for the Middle East with Arab leaders, while working to enlist Gulf states’ cooperation in curbing soaring oil prices, which have had a significant impact on the economy in the U.S. and the rest of the world. The summit, which assembled representatives of several Arab countries, particularly the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain), Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, followed a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.