BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk called Monday on Emiratis to visit Lebanon for vacation, saying the UAE was considering lifting the advisory warning against travel to the country.
“The Emiratis are most welcome to visit Lebanon ... the security situation has come under control,” Machnouk said from Abu Dhabi, where he announced a tour of several Gulf states aimed at encouraging tourism and garnering support for Lebanon’s security services.
“There are encouraging indicators that the travel advisory warning Emiratis against visiting Lebanon could be lifted, but we still haven’t had a decisive promise,” he said.
Machnouk said his visit to the UAE would restore the trust and admiration which previously characterized relations between Lebanon and the Gulf country.
Saudi Arabia lifted its travel advisory for Lebanon earlier this month and other Gulf countries are expected to follow suit. The advisory was initially issued by the Gulf countries in mid-2012, ostensibly due to the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Last year and at the beginning of this year, Lebanon witnessed a series of bombings that rocked the country, mainly targeting areas associated with Hezbollah.
Most of the attacks were claimed by Syrian rebel groups who said they were retaliating against the party’s military role in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad.
Machnouk said he was seeking to strengthen Lebanon’s ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council and garner support for “the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and the General Security in confronting terrorism at this difficult stage Lebanon is going through.”
During his trip Machnouk met his UAE counterpart Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 20, 2014, on page 3.