Kuwait sup­ports Le­banon sovereignty; pa­tri­arch meets Saudi king, Hariri

Kuwait Times - - Front Page -

BEIRUT/RIYADH: Kuwait’s am­bas­sador to Le­banon told Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun his coun­try sup­ports his ef­forts to over­come the “del­i­cate sit­u­a­tion” and stands by Le­banese sovereignty, Aoun said in a tweet yes­ter­day. Le­banon’s Saudi-al­lied Prime Min­is­ter Saad Al-Hariri de­clared his res­ig­na­tion on Nov 4 in a broad­cast from Riyadh, throw­ing Le­banon into po­lit­i­cal cri­sis. Saudi Ara­bia, an ally of Kuwait, has ac­cused Le­banon of declar­ing war on it be­cause of the in­flu­ence of Iran-backed Hezbol­lah, and has ad­vised Saudi cit­i­zens to leave Le­banon.

Mean­while, the head of Le­banon’s Ma­ronite church, in a his­toric visit to Saudi Ara­bia, voiced sup­port yes­ter­day for Hariri over his res­ig­na­tion. Be­shara Rai ar­rived in Riyadh on Mon­day in the first trip to the king­dom by a se­nior Le­banese fig­ure since Hariri quit. Hariri had cited fears for his life and ac­cused Hezbol­lah of con­trol­ling Le­banon. “I am con­vinced by the rea­sons for his res­ig­na­tion,” Rai said. “He will re­turn to Le­banon as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Many ob­servers sus­pected Riyadh had or­dered him to re­sign, and se­nior Le­banese politi­cians have al­leged he is un­der de facto house ar­rest in the cap­i­tal. But in his first tweet in sev­eral days yes­ter­day, Hariri brushed aside those al­le­ga­tions. “Ev­ery­body, I’m to­tally fine. God will­ing, I’ll be back in these two days. Let’s calm down,” he wrote. He added that his fam­ily would stay in Saudi Ara­bia, call­ing it “their coun­try”.

Hariri’s res­ig­na­tion came against the back­drop of mount­ing ten­sions be­tween Sunni Saudi Ara­bia and Shi­ite Iran, which back op­pos­ing sides in con­flicts and power strug­gles from Syria to Ye­men. Rai’s trip to Saudi Ara­bia, though over­shad­owed by Hariri’s res­ig­na­tion, is sig­nif­i­cant as it sym­bol­izes a rare in­ter-reli­gious ex­change in the ul­tra­con­ser­va­tive Sunni king­dom, home to the holi­est sites in Is­lam. Rai is the top cleric in Le­banon’s pow­er­ful Ma­ronite com­mu­nity, and is reg­u­larly con­sulted by both Chris­tian and non-Chris­tian po­lit­i­cal fig­ures as well as re­ceiv­ing for­eign dig­ni­taries when they visit the coun­try.

Dur­ing his visit to Saudi Ara­bia, he met King Sal­man and pow­er­ful Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man yes­ter­day. The pa­tri­arch and the king “re­viewed fra­ter­nal re­la­tions be­tween the king­dom and Le­banon and con­firmed the im­por­tance of the role of dif­fer­ent re­li­gions and cul­tures in pro­mot­ing tol­er­ance, re­nounc­ing vi­o­lence, ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism,” the state-run Saudi Press Agency said. Separately, Saudi Gulf af­fairs min­is­ter

Thamer Al-Sab­han said the Ma­ronite pa­tri­arch’s visit “stresses the king­dom’s ap­proach for peace­ful co­ex­is­tence, close­ness and open­ness for all sec­tions of Ara­bic peo­ple.”

French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Yves Le Drian has said France was “wor­ried by the sit­u­a­tion in Le­banon” and wanted to see the gov­ern­ment there “sta­bilise as quickly as pos­si­ble”. Le Drian is set to visit Riyadh to­mor­row. France joined Ger­many on Mon­day in call­ing for an end to ex­ter­nal in­ter­fer­ence in Le­banon - buf­feted for decades by con­flicts be­tween big­ger play­ers in the re­gion such as Iran and Syria. Last week, US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son also warned other coun­tries against us­ing Le­banon for “proxy con­flicts”, adding that he had no ev­i­dence that Hariri was be­ing held against his will in the oil-rich king­dom. — Agen­cies

RIYADH: Le­banon’s Chris­tian Ma­ronite pa­tri­arch Be­shara Rai meets Saudi King Sal­man yes­ter­day. — AFP

RIYADH: Le­banon’s re­signed prime min­is­ter Saad Hariri meets Le­banon’s Chris­tian Ma­ronite pa­tri­arch Be­shara Rai yes­ter­day. — AFP

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