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Saudi envoy says caricature won’t affect ties with Lebanon
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri is seen in Beirut, Monday, March 5, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri is seen in Beirut, Monday, March 5, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon said Wednesday during a meeting with President Michel Sleiman that the recent caricatures insulting his king would not affect ties between the two countries.

"Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri thanked Lebanon for its official stance as well as the [work of] judicial agencies, saying what had happened would not affect the strength of current ties or the kingdom’s position toward Lebanon," according to a statement from the president’s office.

During the talks at Baabda Palace, Sleiman reiterated Lebanon’s rejection to insults toward kings, particularly Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz, or heads of states and said Lebanon was keen on maintaining the best of ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) including Bahrain.

Lebanese living in the Metn area woke up Tuesday morning to a large caricature depicting the Saudi monarch as the king of spades holding a bloodied knife.

The banners were soon taken down by security agencies and the Central Criminal Investigation Bureau launched a probe into the incident.

The caricatures, which drew outrage by Lebanese officials and politicians, surfaced days after a Saudi paper published a caricature depicting Maronite Cardinal Beshara Rai as Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Ties between Lebanon and Gulf states had already taken a negative turn after Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun’s remarks last week on the uprising in Bahrain, which prompted the GCC to send Lebanon's envoy to Riyadh a letter of protest.

In a telephone call to his Bahraini counterpart, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Aoun's comments did not reflect that of the government’s official position and that Lebanon would not interfere in the kingdom’s internal affairs.

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