BEIRUT: Lebanese officials mourned the late Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Monday, with state figures describing his death as a loss for the kingdom and the Arab world.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Embassy began accepting condolences at the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut.
President Michel Sleiman telephoned Saudi King Abdullah and the newly appointed Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, paying his condolences for the death of Nayef.
Nayef, the longtime interior minister who rose to become next in line to the Saudi throne, died Saturday in Switzerland. He was in his late 70s. Prince Salman was appointed a new crown prince Monday.
Nabatieh MP Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, offered his condolences to Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri at the Saudi Embassy Monday.
A statement from the embassy said Raad and Asiri discussed the situation in Lebanon, in particular the need to boost national unity and protect the Lebanese arena against regional turmoil.
The Saudi Embassy began receiving condolences Monday from 5 p.m. until to 8 p.m. Condolences can be offered Tuesday and Wednesday.
Future Movement Secretary General Ahmad Hariri offered condolences to Asiri at the mosque as head of a delegation from the movement. Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, Transport and Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi and Former Prime Minister Salim Hoss also paid their respects to Asiri.
Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh paid respects to King Abdullah for Nayef’s demise via a telegram.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani offered his condolences to the Saudi king in Mecca.
“We expressed to King [Abdullah] our deep sorrow over the death of Prince [Nayef], who was a prominent figure in the Arab and Islamic nations as well as a philanthropist and firm decision maker,” said Qabbani.
Nayef was buried in Mecca Sunday. A host of Arab leaders took part in funeral prayers, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Qabbani.
In a statement released shortly after Nayef’s death, Mikati described him as a brother to and friend of Lebanon.
“With the absence of Prince Nayef, the Saudi kingdom as well as the Arab and Muslim community lose a distinguished man known for his courage, wisdom and support of Arab causes.”
Hariri said Nayef was a genius and a humble man who dedicated his life to defending Saudi Arabia’s causes and protecting its resources in the face of those who undermining its security.
“We in Lebanon feel the gravity of this great loss and the absence of a man who loved our country and contributed to supporting its legitimate institutions.”
Beirut MP Tammam Salam flew to Saudi Arabia Monday and offered his condolences to senior Saudi officials.
Chouf MP Nehme Tohme paid his condolences to the Saudi monarch and senior Saudi officials in a statement.
Tohme hailed Nayef’s “historical role in cementing stability and preserving security” in the kingdom. Also offering his condolences to the king in a letter was Akkar MP Nidal Tohme.
Akkar MP Qassem Abdul-Aziz and former Speaker Hussein Husseini offered their condolences to the king in telegrams.
For his part, Elias Aoun, president of the Journalists Union, described Nayef’s death as a loss for Saudi Arabia and for Arab and Islamic countries.
“Lebanon loses with his departure a dear brother that always stood by its side in difficult circumstances,” said Aoun in a statement.
Former Minister and prominent Lebanese businessman Adnan Kassar offered his condolences to the Saudi monarch and people in a statement.
“He [Nayef], never hesitated to stand beside the Lebanese people in the gloomiest circumstances,” Kassar said.