Saudi Arabia will work with ‘whoever Lebanon elects’ as president, envoy

Former PM and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Arab Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan. NNA
Former PM and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Arab Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan. NNA

Saudi Arabia has vowed it will support whoever the Lebanese people elect as their president, according to statements made my Riyadh’s Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan.

In an interview with Al Arabiya’s sister channel Al Hadath, Sabhan said he will meet several political leaders in Beirut in order to find a pathway for future bilateral ties.

Sabhan is being considered one of the first Saudi diplomat to visit Lebanon since March of this year. During his two-day visit, he met with Lebanese Prime Minister Tamam Salam where they discussed bilateral ties and regional issues.

He met separately with former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and ex-PM Najib Miqati in the presence of the Saudi Charge d’Affaires, Walid al-Bukhari.

Miqati said after the meeting that “the kingdom has never been distant from Lebanon or the Lebanese (people) and in the hard times which Lebanon has faced, the kingdom was like an older brother to Lebanon.”

When asked by reporters about the Saudi position on the Lebanese presidency, Miqati said that Riyadh is concerned about Lebanon’s stability, but will not interfere.

Al-Sabhan also met with former PM and  Future Movement leader Saad Hariri in the presence of his chief of staff, Nader Hariri.

They discussed the latest developments in Lebanon and the region. But the minister left without making any statement.

The envoy later met with Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat,  Ministers Wael Abou Faour and Akram Shehayyeb, and lawmaker Ghazi Aridi attended the meeting.

Sabhan also met with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi at the seat of the Maronite church in Bkirki.

At noon, he headed to Rabieh where he held talks with the leader of the Change and Reform bloc, MP Michel Aoun, and then went to Maarab for talks with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.

Sabhan met on Thursday with former presidents Amin Gemayel and Michel Suleiman.

He also visited Dar al-Fatwa where he met with Grand Mufti Abdullatif Daryan and the Higher Islamic Shi’ite Council where he held talks with Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan.

The Saudi envoy is expected on Saturday to hold talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, the head of the Marada Movement, MP Suleiman Franjieh, Interior Minister Nohad al-Mashnouq and Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji.

Saudi Arabia is willing to meet all political parties in Lebanon who are “not listed as terrorist organizations, according to the Saudi diplomat, a possible reference to Hezbollah

“We always strive to build good relations with Arab countries. Lebanon means a lot to us, and historical relations between the two countries cannot be denied, and cannot be influenced by the agendas of any crisis happening at the time. We are working to complete strategies with regards to Lebanon and all Arab countries,” he said.

Al Arabiya/AlSharq al Awsat

  • 5thDrawer

    Yes Saudis, that’s the way the world works. You have to talk to anyone some other crazy country elects.
    It’s called ‘normal’. Or, ‘Basic’.

  • PatienceTew

    Yah … even the Hizboob candidate…………