Assad Abdullah 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
BEIRUT — The leaders of Syria and Saudi Arabia launched an unprecedented effort Friday to defuse fears of violence over upcoming indictments in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
RELATED:Analysis: Illusion and reality clash in LebanonHariri warns of 'more violence, war'
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri — the son of the slain statesman — and President Michel Suleiman were at the airport as Saudi King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar Assad stepped off the plane together. It was a strong public show of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Syria, which for years vied for influence over Lebanon.
Many fear that new violence between Lebanon's Shiite and Sunni
communities could break out if the international tribunal investigating
Hariri's death implicates Hizbullah
, which is Syria's main ally in Lebanon.
In May 2008, Hizbullah gunmen swept through Sunni pro-government
neighborhoods of Beirut, raising fears the country could fall into a new
civil war. That crisis was resolved only after fellow Arab countries
mediated a truce and political compromise between the two sides that has
tenuously held since.
Hariri was a Sunni leader with strong links to Saudi Arabia. The
international tribunal investigating Hariri's death has not announced
who will be charged, but the leader of Hizbullah said last week members
of his group will be among those indicted.
Security was tight throughout Beirut on Friday as helicopters buzzed
overhead. No details were released about Friday's one-day summit,
although Hizbullah Cabinet ministers were also expected to take part.