The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

Fresh winds car­ry­ing good tid­ings blan­keted Tues­day’s cold spell in Le­banon af­ter the cor­dial, warm and frank talks be­tween Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun and King Sal­man.

The dis­cus­sions crowned mul­ti­pronged talks be­tween the eight Le­banese min­is­ters ac­com­pa­ny­ing Aoun with their Saudi coun­ter­parts aimed mainly at erad­i­cat­ing all mis­un­der­stand­ings, am­bi­gu­ity and ten­sions that have marred re­la­tions.

The first sig­nal of the talks’ suc­cess came in re­ports af­ter the meet­ing that Riyadh and Beirut have agreed to dis­cuss the restora­tion of the $3 bil­lion mil­i­tary aid pack­age, which amounts to the lift­ing of the block.

In Beirut, Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri de­scribed the meet­ing be­tween King Sal­man and Aoun as of premier im­por­tance and voiced op­ti­mism re­gard­ing the po­ten­tial re­turn of Saudi tourists and in­vest­ments to Le­banon.

The out­come should also re­lieve the 250,000 Le­banese work­ing in Saudi Ara­bia whose sta­tus was in peril for years due to Hezbol­lah’s in­ter­ven­tion in Syria and be­yond.

It also prom­ises a tourism bo­nanza, know­ing that a few years ago nearly 200,000 Saudi tourists vis­ited Le­banon yearly, Saudi in­vest­ment was some $5.5 bil­lion be­tween 2004 and 2012 while Le­banese ex­pats in the king­dom sent home re­mit­tances of $4.5 bil­lion a year.

This is just the tip of the ice­berg of the im­pli­ca­tions of restor­ing ex­cel­lent ties, but it is im­per­a­tive to try to build on this fer­tile soil.

Fi­nally, a shin­ing out­come of the visit’s suc­cess sees Le­banon re­turn to the heart of the Arab na­tion and cat­a­pults it into its pre­vi­ous role as a main player within this so­ci­ety with a Cab­i­net that prom­ises ac­tion with in­tegrity and trans­parency fo­cus­ing on the coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence and sovereignty.

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