BEIRUT: Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri Friday said the presidential election in Lebanon was the responsibility of the country’s Christians and reiterated that Riyadh backed Lebanese accord.
“This election is the responsibility of the Christians in the first degree, and their large responsibility towards their country,” Asiri said, speaking to reporters following talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Bkirki.
The Saudi diplomat said his country supported an intra-Lebanese accord to elect a new head of state, explaining that “an intra-Christian and intra-Lebanese consensus with the partnership of all political powers needed to produce something.”
Asiri said Saudi Arabia supported any consensus among Lebanese factions to elect a president, especially since Riyadh believed in the safety, stability and prosperity of Lebanon.
“But it is not useful and it is not reasonable and it is not acceptable that Riyadh interferes, or any other state [does], in Lebanese affairs,” he warned.
Asiri also said that the different political powers in Lebanon needed to exert efforts to hold the election on time.
“We are going through good times and we have a promising summer ahead if the presidential elections are held and a consensus individual was chosen, and I believe Lebanon will have a respectable, fruitful, and useful summer,” he stressed.
Asiri also praised Rai’s efforts to ensure that the presidential election is held within constitutional deadlines.
“We are counting on, without a doubt and in light of the circumstances facing Lebanon, the efforts exerted by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, and the faithful sons of Lebanon to find solutions to all that afflicts the issue of the presidential election,” he said.
For his part, Rai praised the ambassador’s role in Lebanon and “the tireless efforts towards Arab and Saudi tourists to return again to summer in Lebanon.”
The Saudi Ambassador returned to Lebanon earlier this month after a months-long absence for security reasons.
Earlier this month, Riyadh lifted its nearly two-year travel advisory for Lebanon. The revocation will go into effect at the end of the month, with other Gulf states expected to follow suit.