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Lebanon Pinning High Hopes on Aoun’s Visit to Saudi Arabia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this photo released by Lebanon’s official government photographer Dalati Nohra, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, left, meets with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khaled al-Faisal, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Nov. 21, 2016. al-Faisal said, he handed an invitation to the newly elected Lebanese president to visit the oil-rich kingdom. (Dalati Nohra via AP)

Beirut – Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun arrives in Riyadh on Monday on his first official visit as head-of-state following his election on October 31.

Sources from the Presidential Palace told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Aoun is pinning high hopes on the visit, which aims at reviving ties between the two countries, especially on the political and economic levels, following two years of languor that has marred the Saudi-Lebanese relations due to the presidential vacuum.

The sources added that the Lebanese president was personally and meticulously following up on the details on his first official trip to Saudi Arabia, adding that the choice of his accompanying ministerial delegation has shown that the visit “surpasses the traditional framework” of State visits.

According to the sources, the high-ranking delegation is formed of eight ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Economy and Trade Minister Raed Khoury, Information Minister Melhem Riachi, Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh, State Minister Pierre Raffoul, as well as former Minister Elias Bou Saab.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Riachi said he hoped Aoun’s visit would have a positive impact on the Saudi-Lebanese relations, especially on the political and economic levels.

The information minister added that the main topics of discussion would include Saudi military aid to Lebanon and means to reinforce economic and political ties between the two countries.

Riachi said the Lebanese president would hold talks with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and would meet with the Lebanese diaspora in the Kingdom.

He added that several meetings would be held between the Lebanese ministers and their Saudi counterparts to explore ways to strengthen relations on the different levels.

Following his visit to Riyadh, Aoun will head to Doha, where he will discuss with the country’s high officials the issue of the Lebanese soldiers held by ISIS, among other topics, according to Riachi.