Lebanese president says ties with Saudi Arabia on the mend after visit

Saudi Arabia cancelled military aid last February when Beirut failed to join other Arab states in condemning attacks by Iranian demonstrators on Saudi missions in Iran.

By REUTERS
January 11, 2017 11:54
2 minute read.
lebanon saudi

Saudi King Salman bin Abulaziz Al-Saud welcomes Lebanon's President Michel Aoun (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 10, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said his country's ties with Saudi Arabia were recovering, after tensions linked to the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran led Riyadh to cancel $3 billion of military aid to Beirut last year.

Aoun, an ally of the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, visited Saudi Arabia this week, trying to mend relations with the Sunni Muslim monarchy which has traditionally backed Hezbollah's opponents in Lebanon.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Saudi Arabia cancelled the military aid in February last year when the Lebanese government failed to join other Arab states in condemning attacks by Iranian demonstrators on Saudi missions in Iran.

It has also warned wealthy Saudi visitors to stay away from Lebanon, depriving the country of vital tourism revenue.

Aoun told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat in an interview published on Wednesday - a day after he held talks with King Salman - that Saudi tourists would soon return to Lebanon.

Asked if his visit had turned a new page in relations with Saudi Arabia, Aoun said: "Yes. When this transient era clears, we will be certain that it had no roots from the Lebanese people's side."

"It is obvious that ties should be normal, regardless of any differences that may arise, or that may have arisen in the past, in relation to the Syrian file," he added, referring to the civil war in neighboring Syria - one of several Middle East conflicts where Tehran and Riyadh back opposing forces.



The dispute has also cast a shadow on the fate of an estimated 750,000 Lebanese nationals living and working in Saudi Arabia and in other Gulf Arab states, who transfer between $7 and $8 billion each year to support extensive families.

Asked about the fate of Saudi aid to the Lebanese army, he said: "This issue will be discussed by the defense ministers of the two countries."

Aoun, who was in Qatar on Wednesday on the second leg of his first trip abroad since he was elected in October, said Saudi Arabia has already decided to allow tourists back to Lebanon, and that details were being worked out between experts from both sides.

In talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Lebanese delegation will discuss making the issuance of work visas for Lebanese easier.

Aoun was also expected to discuss possible Qatari help to free nine kidnapped Lebanese army soldiers believed to be held by Islamic State militants.

Related Content

A general view shows the town of Khorog, Tajikistan
August 16, 2018
Young couple trying to prove human kindness killed by ISIS

By JULIANE HELMHOLD