‘Lebanon keen to establish best ties with Saudi Arabia’

Beirut: Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that his country is keen to establish the “best ties” with Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Aoun’s remarks came during his meeting at Baabda Palace with Arab League (AL) Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki, reports Xinhua news agency.

Aoun insisted that the diplomatic rift between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia must be addressed “through a sincere dialogue based on the foundations of Arab brotherhood, cooperation and coordination between the institutions of the two brotherly countries, given their historical relations which have always been and will remain beneficial for the two peoples”.

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Aoun emphasised the importance of differentiating between stances declared by the Lebanese state and those expressed by individuals or parties, assuring that Lebanon has a democratic system that guarantees freedom of opinion.

The President also welcomed any initiative by the AL to restore historical relations between the two countries, noting that “Lebanon wishes the kingdom nothing but goodness, progress and prosperity, considering that a frank dialogue is essential to bring views closer and heal any rift”.

For his part, Zaki said he is visiting Lebanon to understand the situation from Lebanese officials and explore the possibility of finding a solution to the diplomatic row between the two countries.

“Our objective is to preserve the interests of both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and reach a solution to this situation,” he said.

Lebanese-Saudi relations have deteriorated over the comments made by Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi criticizing Riyadh’s war in Yemen.

Late last month, Saudi Arabia expelled the Lebanese Ambassador and banned all imports from Lebanon in protest against his remarks.

Kordahi had said in a televised interview that the Houthi militia in Yemen has been defending themselves in the face of external aggression for years.

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