Davos 2020: Saudi Arabia's Al Jubeir says Iran 'should stay out of Arab lands'

Davos 2020: Saudi Arabia's Al Jubeir says Iran 'should stay out of Arab lands'
Davos 2020: Saudi Arabia's Al Jubeir says Iran 'should stay out of Arab lands'

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir has called on Iran to "stay out of Arab lands" in reference to its involvement in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and support of Shia groups in those countries.

"We see Iran engaged in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. I think what has happened in Iraq is also a reaction to Iran's heavy-handed interference in Iraq," he told a panel at the World Economic Forum.

"We've also seen that in Lebanon with the demonstrations against Hezbollah by Lebanese including Shia in the south of Lebanon," he continued. "That's a very strong message to the Iranians that they should take care of their people first, they should get out of Arab lands and they should desist from continuing to be the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world. They should stop providing ballistic missiles to terrorist organisations."

Lebanon and foreign involvement in the country's politics were a prominent focus of the panels at the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Thursday.

Former foreign minister Gebran Bassil, speaking at a panel despite criticism at home about his attendance, said the country must “refuse foreign interventions” to stave off the crisis.

"The own responsibility that we should take first is to refuse foreign interventions but one cannot refute the fact that there are foreign interventions in Lebanon.

"We are independent by nature and refuse foreign intervention. I think we can fix the problem not by foreign aid but by reforms."

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that Washington was in discussions with the new Lebanese government to potentially support it.

“We are monitoring the situation [in Lebanon] carefully and we are speaking with the government about various different economic alternatives,” he said.

Lebanon’s new Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni did not respond when asked to confirm Mr Mnuchin’s comments.

On Iraq, Fuad Hussein, deputy prime minister for economic affairs and minister of finance, said Baghdad fears where the situation between Iran and the US is heading and whether the conflict will be proxy. He said Iraq fears for the future.

Turkey's fractured relationship with the US over the controversial delivery of Russia's S-400 air defence system was also a prominent topic, with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg saying Washington and Ankara had failed to find common ground.

The delivery of the system by Russia to Turkey, in a deal strongly backed by President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has deeply troubled Ankara's Nato allies and raised the risk of US sanctions.

"So far it has not been possible to reach an agreement on that," Stoltenberg said at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos at a panel discussion alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who had delivered a staunch defence of the deal.

"We will try to do whatever we can to find a way to solve these issues, as this is one of the issues that is causing problems within the alliance - there is no way to deny that," he added.

Mr Cavusoglu however had argued in front of Stoltenberg that Turkey had no choice but to buy the S-400 due to a dwindling presence of Nato air systems on its volatile borders, including the one with Syria.

"We have to ask ourselves do we need this system? - Yes, because of the threat around us. Were are able to get it from them (Nato allies)? - No, we had to buy," he added.

"We believe they are not incompatible (with Nato systems). This is a defence system and it will not pose any threat to Nato allies," he said.

He added that Turkey was proposing a "working group" chaired by Nato to resolve the issue.

Updated: January 23, 2020 10:03 PM

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