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Lebanon FM quits over Saudi row on TV

Lebanon foreign minister Charbel Wehbe steps down and is swiftly replaced after comments he made irked Saudi Arabia, as cash-strapped Beirut scrambles to avoid a diplomatic fallout with the wealthy Gulf state.

Wehbe said in a televised debate on Monday that the Islamic State group’s rise in the region had been engineered by Gulf states, prompting Lebanese ambassadors in several countries to be summoned.

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Charble Wehbe, speaks to journalists in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, May 19, 2021 (Dalati Nohra via AP)

Lebanon’s leaders have since tried to put out the fire and the 67-year-old announced in a brief statement after meeting President Michel Aoun that he had asked “to be relieved of his duties.”

Hours later, Aoun appointed defense minister Zeina Akar as Wehbe’s replacement, the presidency says in a statement. Aoun asked Akkar — who is also deputy prime minister — “to proceed with her duties as acting foreign minister” as well as her original portfolio.

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