King Salman receives 3 former Lebanese premiers

Mikati: Saudi Arabia will extend hand of support to Lebanon

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JEDDAH — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman received at the Al Salam Palace here Lebanese former prime ministers Najib Mikati, Fouad Siniora and Tammam Salam on Monday according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

During the meeting, they reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries and highlighted the Kingdom’s keenness on Lebanon’s security and stability and the importance of preserving Lebanon within its Arab environment.

Former Prime Minister Mikati, after meeting King Salman, said that Saudi Arabia will “extend a hand of support to Lebanon.”

The King "stressed the necessity of preserving Lebanon and soon there will be Saudi steps towards the Lebanese state," Mikati told Lebanon's LBC TV. "Our concern is saving the country in light of the difficulties that we are going through," he said.

Another former prime minister Siniora told Al Arabiya that Saudi Arabia has always stood by “all of Lebanon with all of its components.”

Siniora said the visit to the Kingdom by former Lebanese prime ministers “does not mean that we speak only on behalf of our sect,” adding that they came to convey to King Salman the “difficult situation Lebanon is going through.”

“Saudi Arabia has always stood by all of Lebanon with all of its components. The visit of former Lebanese prime ministers to Saudi Arabia was aimed at talking about the entirety of Lebanon,” Siniora told Al Arabiya.

Siniora, said the talks were important in terms of support for Lebanon's economy, stability and unity. The Lebanese government, saddled with one of the world's heaviest public debt burdens, is facing a financial crisis that it seeks to address with long-delayed reforms.

Saudi Arabia was a historic backer of Lebanon until ties between the two were strained in recent years by the growing influence of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

Siniora told Al-Arabiya TV the former prime ministers discussed with Saudi leaders the importance of Riyadh resuming support for Lebanon. Former Prime Minister Tammam Salam also attended the talks.

In January, the Saudi finance minister said the Kingdom would support Lebanon "all the way" to protect its stability.

“Our visit to Saudi Arabia came as a reinforcement of the position of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri,” Siniora added.

In Beirut, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari, according to Lebanon's LBC TV’s website, said, “A visit by three of Lebanon's former premiers to Saudi Arabia for talks promised to yield stronger ties between the two countries.

“It carries the features of a promising future for strengthening relations between the two countries." — SG/Al Arabiya English


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