BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk discussed Qatar’s travel advisory to Lebanon with Qatari officials Wednesday during an official visit to Doha in the hope that the Gulf country would lift its warning.
Machnouk called on officials to encourage Qatari nationals to visit Lebanon after the holy month of Ramadan, stressing tourism’s importance for the Lebanese economy.
After Saudi Arabia lifted its travel advisory to Lebanon last month, officials expressed hope that Qatar and other Gulf states would follow suit. Machnouk asserted that there was never a Qatari ban on travel to Lebanon, only an advisory warning nationals of the potential dangers.
The meeting with Qatar’s Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani at the Interior Ministry also included the head of Doha’s General Security, the director general of international cooperation and other prominent Qatari officials.
Machnouk was accompanied by a delegation of security officials comprised of Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanon’s General Security; Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, the Internal Security Forces chief; Imad Othman, head of the ISF’s Information Branch; and Beirut Governor Ziad Shbib.
Speaking to Lebanese television station Al-Jadeed, Machnouk said the presence of security officials in the delegation owed to discussions that would include the activities of the ISF and General Security as well as the construction of more developed and modern prisons in Lebanon.
The minister described his meeting with the premier as “positive and holding good promises regarding all discussed topics” and voiced hope toward more positive and transparent meetings in the future.
Machnouk invited Thani to open the newly restored National Library in Beirut in person, as Qatar has sponsored the project.
The Qatari premier declared his full support for stability in Lebanon, highlighting the importance of distancing the country from Syria after the officials discussed both the civil war and the resulting refugee crisis. He pledged that Qatar would take an active role in supporting the country with refugee aid. He also offered assistance with security issues, including prisons and fortifying the Lebanese security forces.
He also vowed to work toward securing the World Cup broadcasting rights for Tele Liban after the TV station expressed pessimism earlier this week over the license.
After the meeting, Machnouk visited Qatar’s national headquarters for security operations, where he was briefed on the emirate’s procedures and protocols. The minister arrived to Doha Monday for a visit that is expected to last for a few days.