Aoun chairs a meeting of the Higher Defense Council at Baabda Palace. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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President Michel Aoun will visit Saudi Arabia and Qatar next week on his first foreign tour as head of state, aimed primarily at normalizing ties with Arab Gulf states and seeking to lift the ban on Gulf citizens traveling to Lebanon, officials said Thursday.Shalala said Aoun, heading a high-ranking delegation of eight ministers, will leave for the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Monday on a two-day official visit. In Riyadh, Aoun is expected to hold talks with King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz and other senior Saudi officials focusing on bilateral relations and ways of strengthening them in all fields, developments in the region, terrorism, and the need for joint action to confront this threat, Shalala said.He added that Aoun's talks with Saudi officials would also touch on the kingdom's support for the Lebanese Army and security forces to help them in the ongoing battle against terrorism. "Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have issued an advisory to their citizens over travel to Lebanon," he said. He added that Aoun's talks in Riyadh would also cover the free movement of Saudi and Lebanese citizens between the two countries, in an implicit reference to the possibility of allowing Saudi nationals to travel to Lebanon.
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