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Minister al-Sabhan Stresses Riyadh’s Keenness to Protect Lebanon | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Future Movement leader Saad Hariri meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Arab Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan. NNA

Beirut-Saudi Arabia’s Arab Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan continued on Friday to meet with Lebanese officials, carrying with him a single message that “the Kingdom is keen on (protecting) Lebanon.”

Since the early morning, the envoy met separately with former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and ex-PM Najib Miqati in the presence of the Saudi Charge d’Affaires, Walid al-Bukhari.

Miqati said after the meeting that “the kingdom has never been distant from Lebanon or the Lebanese (people) and in the hard times which Lebanon has faced, the kingdom was like an older brother to Lebanon.”

When asked by reporters about the Saudi position on the Lebanese presidency, Miqati said that Riyadh is concerned about Lebanon’s stability, but will not interfere.

Al-Sabhan also met with Future Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri in the presence of his chief of staff, Nader Hariri.

They discussed the latest developments in Lebanon and the region. But the minister left without making any statement.

The envoy later met with Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat. Ministers Wael Abou Faour and Akram Shehayyeb, and lawmaker Ghazi Aridi attended the meeting.

He also visited Dar al-Fatwa where he met with Grand Mufti Abdullatif Daryan and the Higher Islamic Shi’ite Council where he held talks with Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan.

Sabhan also met with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi at the seat of the Maronite church in Bkirki.

At noon, he headed to Rabieh where he held talks with the leader of the Change and Reform bloc, MP Michel Aoun, and then went to Maarab for talks with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.

Sabhan met on Thursday with former presidents Amin Gemayel and Michel Sleiman, as well as Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut.

The Saudi envoy is expected on Saturday to hold talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, the head of the Marada Movement, MP Suleiman Franjieh, Interior Minister Nohad al-Mashnouq and Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji.

Saad Hariri will throw a dinner banquet in his honor on Saturday night.