PM Hariri urges Lebanese to put country first

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Updated 23 November 2017
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PM Hariri urges Lebanese to put country first

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Thursday that the political crisis in Lebanon this month was “a wake up call” for Lebanese with different loyalties to put their country ahead of regional issues.
Hariri was referring to the crisis ignited by his decision to resign earlier this month. He announced the shock resignation from Saudi Arabia, a Sunni monarchy and regional powerhouse, which is locked in a tussle with Shiite Islamist Iran.
After returning to Lebanon this week, he shelved the decision on Wednesday at the request of President Michel Aoun.
“The period that passed was perhaps like a wake up call for all of us to look for Lebanon’s interests rather than looking at problems around us,” Hariri said at the Annual Arab Banking Conference in Beirut on Thursday. “The problems around us are important, but Lebanon is more important.”
Hariri also reaffirmed the need for Lebanon to stick by its policy of staying out of regional conflict — “not just with words but with action as well.”
His comments refer to the Iran-backed Hezbollah political and military movement, whose regional military role has greatly alarmed Saudi Arabia, Hariri’s long-time ally.
“I want to stress that ... our main concern is stability, and this is what we’ll be working on,” he said.
Hariri said on Wednesday his decision to postpone resigning would lead to “a responsible dialogue ... that deals with divisive issues and their repercussions on Lebanon’s relations with Arab brothers.”
Top Lebanese officials have said Riyadh forced him to quit and held him in the kingdom. Riyadh and Hariri deny this.
Hariri returned to Lebanon after an intervention by France.
A leader in Hariri’s Future Movement said on Thursday that Hariri’s decision to wait instead of officially resigning from his post was a “wise step” that will allow for more dialogue.


Iran calls US efforts to cut its oil exports to zero ‘political bluff’

Updated 26 min 20 sec ago
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Iran calls US efforts to cut its oil exports to zero ‘political bluff’

  • US administration has been pushing its allies to cut Iranian oil imports
  • US sanctions on Iranian oil exports are due to kick in on Nov. 4

GENEVA: Statements by the United States that it would reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero are a “political bluff,” the head of state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said, according to a report published by Tasnim news agency on Wednesday.
US officials have said they aim to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero to force its leaders to change their behavior in the region. US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports are scheduled to kick in on Nov. 4.
NIOC head Ali Kardor said US President Donald Trump had been trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports for months.
“The president of America has done whatever he can and he knows very well that getting Iran’s oil exports to zero was a political bluff,” Kardor said.
The US administration has been pushing its allies to cut Iranian oil imports and encouraging Saudi Arabia, other OPEC states and Russia to pump more oil to meet any shortfall.
Kardor said Iran did not have any difficulties receiving payments for oil exports and said the Islamic Republic could accept payments in euros instead of dollars if necessary.
“There is no problem on this issue,” Kardor said, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported. “With European support there will not be a problem.”
European powers have been trying to salvage a nuclear accord with Iran after the United States withdrew in May.
The European Union said last month it was considering setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate trade with Iran and said it could be in place before November.
European diplomats have said the SPV would create a barter system, similar to one used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, to exchange Iranian oil for European goods without money changing hands.
Kardor said Iran was scheduled to sign a new oil contract with a foreign company within two weeks, ISNA reported. He did not provide any additional information.