BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) — Lebanon’s president came in Qatar on Monday for the opening ceremony of an Arab soccer tournament, as well as to discuss a previously unresolved diplomatic problem between Beirut and the oil-rich Gulf states.

President Michel Aoun’s face-to-face discussions with Qatar’s emir and other Qatari officials come as Lebanon continues to slide further into its worst economic crisis in modern history. The country’s financial catastrophe, along with a slew of other issues, has pushed more than three-quarters of its six-million-strong people into poverty, including a million Syrian refugees.

During his discussions in Doha, Aoun is anticipated to discuss the difficult relations between Lebanon and the gulf states dominated by Saudi Arabia. Aoun has stated repeatedly that Lebanon desires good relations with Saudi Arabia, which considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist group. Aoun is a Shiite militant group’s political ally.

Following broadcast statements by Lebanon’s communications minister, George Kordahi, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador from Beirut and requested the Lebanese envoy to depart last month. The war in Yemen, according to Kordahi, is pointless and an act of aggression by the Saudi-led coalition.

Yemen’s war began in 2014, when the Houthi rebels, who control majority of the country’s north, took over Sanaa. The coalition commanded by Saudi Arabia entered the conflict the next year, intending to restore the internationally recognised government and evict the insurgents.

Aoun told Qatar’s Al-Raya newspaper that he will ask the country’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to invest in the rehabilitation of Beirut’s port, which was damaged in a major bomb last year. Aoun also stated that he will seek investment in other infrastructure projects, like as power, which is already out for much of the day in Lebanon.

Qatar has one of the world’s greatest natural gas deposits and has previously been a major investor in Lebanon.
Many nations, however, have refused to invest in Lebanon or provide help to its government unless it adopts fundamental changes to combat the corruption and incompetence that caused the 2019 economic disaster.

Aoun will attend the opening ceremony of the FIFA Arab Cup, in which 16 teams will participate, on Tuesday. The 19-day event gives the globe a chance to see Qatar’s new stadiums, which will host the World Cup next year.

Aoun’s visit came as tens of thousands of protestors blocked key roadways in Lebanon on Monday to show their rage at the country’s political establishment for the country’s growing economic crisis and awful living circumstances.
The traffic closures caused by burning tyres were mostly in Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon, the southern port city.

Lebanon’s economic crisis has worsened in recent weeks, with the Lebanese pound reaching new lows of 25,800 to the US dollar, thereby erasing the purchasing power of the majority of the country’s people who are paid in pounds. The monthly minimum salary is 675,000 pounds ($27).

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