BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah said Tuesday in a letter to President Michel Sleiman that his country is “very worried” about recent developments in Lebanon.“Saudi Arabia is very worried over the recent developments and the incidents in Tripoli, especially the targeting of a major sect in the country’s social fabric,” the letter said, in a likely reference to the shooting of Sunni Sheikh Ahmad Abdul-Wahed and his companion at a Lebanese Army checkpoint Sunday.
Abdullah wrote that he is “looking forward” to Sleiman’s intervention to end the current crisis.
The letter also said that Saudi Arabia will continue to support stability in Lebanon, the Taif Agreement, the Doha Agreement and the country’s economy.
Despite recent warnings issued by Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait against travel to Lebanon after a week of violent clashes in parts of Tripoli, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Awad Asiri, said earlier this week his country has no plans to issue a similar warning.
During a meeting Tuesday at Baabda Palace with Asiri, Sleiman vowed to ensure the safety of Saudi visitors to Lebanon. “There are no worries that should prevent Arabs from traveling to Lebanon, because of the special relationship that binds the Lebanese people to Arabs,” Sleiman said.
Also Tuesday, Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said that the recent Gulf decisions were merely precautionary measures. “We should not forget that there are many Qatari, Kuwaiti and Emirati citizens who have not left Lebanon, and the decisions [advising them] to leave are not mandatory,” Mansour told reporters at his ministry.
Mansour called on the media to avoid exaggerating the Gulf countries’ move, warning this could have negative consequences for the country’s economy.
“The media can play a constructive or a destructive role. If we exaggerate the events, even on satellite channels, it will discourage foreigners, Arabs and Lebanese expatriates from visiting Lebanon,” Mansour said.
Late Monday, the French Foreign Affairs Ministry also advised its citizens in Lebanon to monitor the news and avoid visits to the Bekaa and Tripoli, given the recent developments in the country.
“French citizens who are willing to travel to Lebanon should also monitor the news before [doing so],” a ministry statement said.
The ministry also called on French citizens in Lebanon to avoid taking part in mass gatherings, keep a low profile, and “avoid taking pictures of buildings, people and sites.”
Mansour met Tuesday with the ambassadors of Kuwait, Qatar and the Chargés d’Affaires of the UAE.
Asked whether the release Tuesday of Islamist Shadi Mawlawi from custody would make Kuwait reconsider its recent travel warning to Lebanon, Kuwaiti Ambassador to Beirut Abdel-Al al-Qenai said that Kuwait’s decision was not political, but based on the security situation.
“The decision made by Kuwait warning its citizens against traveling to Lebanon was not based on a political incident, but is only related to the security situation in the country,” Qenai said. “No sane person would stay in Beirut amid the tense security situation.”