BEIRUT - Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri urged Kuwait to keep trying to build bridges between Iran and Saudi Arabia to encourage a rapprochement between two regional heavyweights backing opposite sides in Syria's civil war.
Wedged between three big regional powers - Shi'ite Muslim Iran, Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite-led Iraq at the northern end of the Gulf, Kuwait has tried to maintain good relations with all three in recent years. The oil-exporting Gulf Arab state is a Sunni Muslim monarchy but has a sizeable Shi'ite minority active in politics and business.
All of this makes Kuwait a potential go-between in the intractable conflict between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - whose strongest regional ally is Iran - and Saudi-backed Sunni rebels trying to overthrow him.
Berri spoke during a visit to Kuwait two days after Lebanon formed a new government in a possible step towards curbing the sectarian violence that has spilled over into Lebanon from neighbouring Syria.
"I requested that all the Gulf (Arab) countries and in particular Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad play a mediating role between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Berri told the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai in the remarks published on Tuesday.
"The emir has worked and will work in this context, and he will try as much as possible to bring together the points of view," Berri said, referring to Kuwait's leader.