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Asiri calls on Lebanese to rise above their differences

Prime Minister Tammam Salam, right, hands a gift to outgoing Saudi Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: Outgoing Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri urged the Lebanese Tuesday to rise above differences and start dialogue in a bid to safeguard their country.

“I will allow myself to give a brotherly advice: Love Lebanon, preserve it, rise above your differences, engage in dialogue and reconcile ... I am not trying to impose anything on you but this is a call from a person who is fond of Lebanon,” Asiri said during a farewell lunch hosted in his honor by Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail.

Asiri thanked Lebanese officials for their hospitality, saying he relentlessly worked to represent his country and safeguard its interests while developing ties with Lebanon.

“Despite the fact that I am moving to Pakistan to become the new ambassador, Lebanon will remain in my mind and brain,” said Asiri, who will depart his mission this week.

“I will always follow news from this country not only because of Lebanon’s importance in terms of politics and security but also stemming from Saudi Arabia’s eagerness that Lebanon enjoys security and stability,” the Saudi official added.

Salam presented Asiri with a shield, calling him “Arab brother.”

“We are gathered here today to bid farewell to an Arab brother who will leave us in the next few days after living among us for five years. He went through the good and bad times with us, and the bad times in our country are unfortunately plenty,” Salam said.

The prime minister called on rival leaders to resume dialogue, saying talks were the only means capable of producing compromise to resolve political crises.

“We are asked to reconsider our differences so that they could be a source of national enrichment rather than political crises,” he said. “The only solution is via dialogue, which is capable of producing compromise. Any project allowing one group to dominate the other is a risk that threatens Lebanon’s infrastructure.”

Salam again commended Saudi Arabia for donating $1 billion to the Army and other security services to combat terrorism and extremism, saying the grant only demonstrated Riyadh’s policy toward Lebanon, “which aims to strengthen the state and its constitutional institutions, including its legitimate forces.”

The honorary lunch was attended by a number of officials and ministers including former presidents Michel Sleiman and Amine Gemayel, as well as former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and several foreign and Arab envoys.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 13, 2014, on page 3.

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