Beirut seeks Saudi help to tackle refugee crisis
Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam sought Saudi Arabia’s help on Tuesday to deal with the influx of Syrian refugees into his country during his meeting with Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.
“We have discussed crises faced by the Lebanese government, including the influx of Syrian refugees and the impact of the ongoing Syrian war on domestic issues,” he told reporters. “We need regional support to help us endure these huge factors.”
Salam commended the Kingdom’s support for Lebanon. “Saudi Arabia is a big supporter of Lebanon’s stability and can play a vital role in ensuring security ahead of the upcoming elections.”
He said the repeatedly delayed election of a leader to replace President Michel Suleiman, whose mandate expires on May 25, is an “internal Lebanese affair” while urging Lebanese politicians to resolve the issue without further delay.
The Lebanese Parliament’s latest attempt on Thursday to meet to vote on a new president failed for the fourth time, after the Hezbollah-led bloc boycotted the session leaving it without a quorum. Salam discussed regional developments with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman, stressing that political instability will have no negative impact on tourism. “We are all set to host tourists this summer.”
The prime minister also met with businessmen and high-ranking officials and diplomats from various countries at the residence of Lebanese Consul General Ziad Atallah. Mohammed Tayeb, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s branch office in the Makkah region Sheikh Saleh Kamel, president of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Saudi Ambassador Ali Aseeri were present.
The meeting with Salam was also attended by the consuls general of the US, France, the UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Tunis, Algeria and other countries.
During his press conference in Jeddah, Salam highlighted the historic relations between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
He urged Lebanese businessmen and community members to support the Kingdom’s development.
“You are ambassadors of Lebanon in the Kingdom and your support to Saudi business partners will no doubt strengthen our historical ties,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia supports Lebanon through its times of crises and helps to ensure security in the region,” Salam said. The Lebanese community is working hard to attract more Saudi visitors, he said.
“There is a special place for Saudi businessmen in our hearts,” said Salam. “A forum is being organized in Beirut next month to discuss economic developments.”
Ambassador Aseeri said Saudi Arabia has been one of Lebanon’s most important export markets. “Saudi tourists form about 20 percent of Arab tourists to the country and Saudi investments constitute more than 40 percent of the total volume of foreign investment, while Lebanese investment in the Kingdom is estimated at $2.5 billion.”
Tayeb also emphasized Saudi Arabia’s efforts to reinforce Lebanon’s stability.
“Lebanon’s stability and security is key to all Arab countries,” he said.
The Lebanese consul general, meanwhile, welcomed the prime minister and highlighted recent activities at the consulate, such as cultural exchange during the recent Lebanese Week.
“The recent removal of the travel ban to Lebanon following the improved security situation in the country will bring our Saudi brethren back to their second homeland and once again foster a mutual rapport prosperity and proximity between the two countries,” he said.