Beirut, Riyadh – Lebanese President Michel Aoun arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia on his first foreign official trip since taking office in November.
Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz received Aoun and his accompanying delegation at the King Khaled International Airport.
The president’s delegation is formed of eight ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Machnouq, Defense Minister Yaacoub al-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.
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.
Former President Amin Gemayel said he hoped that Aoun’s visit to Riyadh would bolster relations between the two countries, highlighting the important role assumed by Saudi Arabia in supporting Lebanon on the economic level and before Arab and international organizations.
Aoun had received an official invitation to visit the Kingdom from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
In remarks on Monday ahead of his trip to Riyadh, Aoun stressed the importance of dialogue between countries concerned with crises in the region.
Aoun voiced hope that the crisis in Syria would be resolved peacefully and politically because refugees would consequently be allowed to return to Syria and rebuild it.
Aoun received Monday a French parliamentary delegation headed by MP Thierry Mariani. During the meeting, Aoun said: “The cycle of political life in Lebanon started in a good manner after ending the presidential vacuum and forming a new government.”
He also hoped that amelioration in situation would entail all sectors.
Following his visit to Riyadh, Aoun will head to Doha on Wednesday to meet the invitation of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.