Saudi Arabia urges its citizens to leave Lebanon
February 23 2016 06:11 PM
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Saudi Arabia foreign ministry issued a statement calling on "all citizens not to travel to Lebanon, for their safety, and asking citizens residing in Lebanon or visiting not to stay unless extremely necessary."

AFP/ Riyadh

Saudi Arabia Tuesday urged its citizens in Lebanon to leave, days after Riyadh halted a $3-billion programme funding military supplies to Beirut in response to "hostile" positions linked to Hezbollah.

The foreign ministry issued a statement calling on "all citizens not to travel to Lebanon, for their safety, and asking citizens residing in Lebanon or visiting not to stay unless extremely necessary," the official SPA news agency reported.

Announcing the aid halt on Friday, an official said the kingdom had noticed "hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the State".

Riyadh was making "a comprehensive review of its relations with the Lebanese republic", the unnamed official said, cited by SPA.

Alleged leaders of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah are under sanction by Saudi Arabia.

The Shiite militant group is fighting in support of Syria's regime and is backed by Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, with whom relations have worsened this year.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran last month after demonstrators stormed its embassy and a consulate following the Saudi execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric and activist.

Syria's war has exacerbated political rivalries within Lebanon, which has been without a president for almost two years because of fierce disagreements between Hezbollah and its rivals.

The Saudi official cited on Friday said Lebanon had not joined condemnation of the attacks on its diplomatic missions in Iran, either at the Arab League or the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The official also deplored the "political and media campaigns inspired by Hezbollah against Saudi Arabia", as well as the group's "terrorist acts against Arab and Muslim nations".



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