Lebanese president arrives today for two-day state visit

Lebanese president arrives today for two-day state visit

Michel Aoun
Michel Aoun

RIYADH — Lebanese President Michel Aoun will arrive in Saudi Arabia today for a two-day state visit, his first to a foreign country since being elected president.

Aoun will hold frank talks with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and other Saudi leaders on a number of issues of mutual concern.

The Lebanese president will be accompanied by ministers of finance, education, foreign affairs, defense, interior, information and economy and commerce.

Lebanese ambassador to Riyadh Abdul Sattar Mohammed Issa said the ministers will hold separate talks with their Saudi counterparts on ways and means of further promoting bilateral political and economic ties.

“The Lebanese president was determined to make Saudi Arabia the first stop on his foreign visits, which confirms the strength of the relationship between the two countries,” the ambassador said.

Aoun is the 13th president of Lebanon since independence. He is the fourth military commander to hold the presidency.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon go back to 1952 when then Lebanese President Camille Chamoun visited Riyadh and held talks with King Abdul Aziz, the Kingdom’s founder.

The Lebanese Council of Business and Investments in the Kingdom welcomed the visit and said it reflects Lebanon’s keenness to further consolidate its strong ties with Saudi Arabia.

The council’s chairman, Mohammed Shaheen, hoped that the visit would open a new page in relations between the two countries.

“The visit takes place at an important juncture. We hope it will pave the way for the Saudis to start visiting Lebanon as they used to do in the past,” he said.

According to informed sources, Saudi Arabia’s assistance to Lebanon has reached more than $12 billion in the forms of grants and soft loans.

They said in 2015, the volume of trade exchange between the two counties reached more than $ 736 million.

The Kingdom is the top importer of Lebanese goods, which reached $357 million in 2015. Lebanon’s imports from Saudi Arabia was put at $380 million in the same year.

Aoun will travel to Qatar at the end of his visit to the Kingdom.