Saudi King to visit Egypt, Syria, Lebanon this week

Saudi ruler King Abdullah meets Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad on Thursday to try to ease tensions in Lebanon.

Saudi King to visit Egypt, Syria, Lebanon this week

Saudi ruler King Abdullah meets Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad on Thursday to try to ease tensions in Lebanon.

The monarch will hold talks with Assad in Damascus before heading to Beirut where he will meet his ally Premier Saad al-Hariri, President Michel Suleiman and Lebanese political leaders, Saudi officials said.

The king hopes to convince Assad to accompany him to Beirut from Damascus, Lebanese officials say, although Syria has not confirmed that Assad will oblige.

The Saudi king's hours-long visit will be his first to Lebanon since 2002.

In Lebanon, the king will meet President Michel Sleiman and members of the national unity government that includes Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made clear that he would not accept any indictment of Hezbollah members and has questioned the credibility of the tribunal into the 2005 killing of Saad's father, former premier Rafik al-Hariri.

"The king appears keen to deal with concerns that recent tensions could escalate if the (U.N.) court takes some decisive action in the Hariri murder case," said Khalid al-Dakhil, a prominent Saudi political writer.

"The visit also aims at ascertaining the regional understandings Syria has with Saudis, Turks, the French .... to keep Lebanon stable and stay away from Lebanese internal political wranglings."

President Michel Suleiman held four days of talks with political leaders earlier this month to try to calm tensions.

Before the Syrian leg, King Abdullah will on Wednesday meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Saad al-Hariri, who initially blamed Syria for his father's death, has since tried to ease tensions with Damascus and has made several trips to meet Assad. Syria has denied any involvement in Hariri's killing.

Damascus had re-set relations with Lebanon after improving ties with Saudi Arabia.


Agencies

Last Mod: 27 Temmuz 2010, 17:11
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