BEIRUT: A Saudi delegation arrived in Beirut Tuesday for talks with Lebanese authorities over the security situation, after a Saudi national was arrested for involvement in a bomb plot last week.
The delegation is expect to meet with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk later in the day. Machnouk chaired a security meeting with the country’s various security apparatuses in light of the recent bombings and measures taken to keep the situation under control.
An-Nahar reported that the delegation was to follow up on the ongoing investigation of a Saudi would-be suicide bomber who was apprehended at a Beirut hotel after his partner blew himself up to evade arrest last week.
The detainee confessed to being part of a double suicide-bomb plot against a restaurant in Beirut’s southern suburbs frequented by Hezbollah officials. He also told investigators that the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) had recruited him for the attack.
Last week’s bombing came only two days after a suicide bomber killed a General Security officer after being stopped in Tayyouneh, one of the main entrances to the capital’s suburbs.
The attack renewed fears in a country that was hit with a series of bombings last year and earlier this year linked to the crisis in Syria.
Authorities have launched a crackdown on militants who reportedly fled to Lebanon from Syria with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks in the country.
Meanwhile, Machnouk said that the security in Lebanon was still under control despite the recent bombings, which he noted security forces had prevented from hitting their original targets.
"The situation is under control, and the three previous bombings failed, although they caused major damage," Machnouk told reporters at the ministry after holding talks with the head of the Lebanon's Bank Association, Francois Bassil.
"I reassure [the Lebanese] that security agencies are alert and coordinate with each other at the highest level," he said.
Asked whether he feared Lebanon would plunge into an Iraq-style conflict, Machnouk said: "Never. Lebanon's circumstances and makeup are different. Lebanon does not resemble Iraq at all."
Machnouk also commended the association for the financial aid they provided for renovations at Roumieh Prison, Lebanon’s most notorious detention facility.
"The financial help for Roumieh affirms that the association shoulders national responsibility,” he said.
Renovations, the minister said, would begin next week.
The minister had appealed to the association for help in funding renovations and reforms at the prison, which suffers from overpopulation and poor conditions as well as slow court trials.