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The Lebanese presidential office confirmed today that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will accompany Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz to Lebanon on Friday for a summit aimed at easing tensions in the country.

“The Saudi monarch and Syrian president will come together to attend the hours-long summit,” a presidential official told reporters.

In a related development Al-Arabiya TV reported that the Saudi King arrived Thursday in Damascus to meet with president Assad.

US: Assad should listen

Commenting on the summit in Lebanon U.S. State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said Wednesday:

“King Abdullah has played a significant leadership role in the region. So his prospective travel to Syria and to Lebanon is consistent with his search for peace, (and) his promotion of the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Crowley added:

“We think that President Assad and other Syrian leaders should listen very attentively to what King Abdullah will tell them.”

This will be Assad’s first visit to Lebanon since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Preparations

Preparations to welcome Saudi King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Beirut reached their climax after Saudi and Syrian flags were hoisted along the Hazmieh-Baabda road and lunch invitations were sent to Lebanese officials, including cabinet members.

An Nahar daily said Thursday new invitations were printed after it was confirmed that Assad would also attend the lunch that will be hosted by President Michel Suleiman in Abdullah’s honor at 2:15 pm Friday.

The newspaper said that around 150 officials were invited.

President Assad and King Abdullah are expected to will arrive in Beirut at 1:30 pm.

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