BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Jumblatt travels to Saudi Arabia for talks

Jumblatt's relations with Saudi Arabia have cooled since Najib Mikati was appointed prime minister.(The Daily Star/ Hasan Shaaban).

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt flew to Saudi Arabia Friday for talks with Saudi officials on recent developments in Lebanon and Syria.

“The visit comes on an invitation from the Saudi leadership,” Rami Rayyes, the PSP’s media official, told The Daily Star.

Rayyes added that Jumblatt was to meet Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan along with Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

“He could also meet Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz if his [the king’s] health situation permits,” Rayyes said.

Rayyes explained that Jumblatt and Saudi officials would focus their talks on developments in Lebanon and the region, particularly Syria.

Jumblatt’s ties with the kingdom cooled after his bloc nominated Najib Mikati for prime minister rather than Saad Hariri in January 2011. The PSP leader said in a television interview following the collapse of the Hariri government that King Abdullah had to understand that his move was aimed at averting strife in the country, which could have erupted over disputes relating to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

“Yes, ties have cooled following the collapse of the government of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, as Walid Jumblatt believed that his step would protect the country from strife,” Rayyes said. “This turned out to be true, as the country enjoyed relative stability.”

Rayyes explained that the PSP was always grateful for Saudi Arabia’s initiatives to support Lebanon, most importantly for brokering the 1989 Taif Accord that ended Lebanon’s Civil War along with contributing to postwar reconstruction efforts.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 16, 2013, on page 2.

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