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Businessmen keen to visit Gulf in bid to repair ties.

Summary: Lebanese businessmen want to visit Gulf countries to shore up economic and diplomatic ties, said Adnan Kassar, president of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries.

BEIRUT: Lebanese businessmen want to visit Gulf countries to shore up economic and diplomatic ties, said Adnan Kassar, president of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries.

"We want to form a delegation to go and visit [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries in order to clarify the position of Lebanon and Lebanese businessmen in the recent diplomatic crises," Kassar told Prime Minister Tammam Salam during a visit to the Grand Serail Friday.

Kassar said that everybody should take part in finding a solution that would restore diplomatic ties with GCC Countries.

Diplomatic ties between Gulf countries and Lebanon deteriorated after Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil declined endorse a joint statement at an Arab League meeting in January labeling Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

In the following weeks, the GCC designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization, Gulf countries issued travel warnings against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia suspended $4 billion in security aid. Gulf countries have also begun expelling a number of Lebanese expats suspected of having links with Hezbollah.

There is deep concern that some Gulf states may expand their punitive measures against Lebanon.

The specter of expelling thousands of Lebanese expatriates has loomed over the nation the past few days amid some media reports claiming that the GCC is preparing a new list of Lebanese who may be considered personae non gratae. Lebanon receives close to $4.5 billion in remittances from Gulf countries each year, representing more than half of the financial inflows to the country.

Kassar previously headed a delegation of private sector businessmen to the Saudi Embassy in Beirut in attempts to maintain the economic and diplomatic ties between Lebanese citizens, Saudi Arabia and all GCC members.

"We asked PM Salam to continue his efforts in cooperation with Speaker Nabih Berri and other officials to restore long-standing diplomatic ties with GCC Countries," he said during his meeting with Salam.

After visiting Berri Thursday, Kassar said, "We informed Berri [of] the move that the private sector intends to make, including a tour of the GCC [countries], in order to clarify our [position as Lebanese] and particularly that of the Lebanese businessmen."

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Mar 19, 2016
Words:406
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