Bassil Asks Bukhari to Press for Return of Saudi Tourists
Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Monday asked Saudi charge d'affaires in Lebanon Walid al-Bukhari to “urge the Saudi leadership to lift the ban on the travel of Saudi citizens to Lebanon, which would encourage other Gulf states to follow suit,” the National News Agency said.
Bassil made the request during a meeting with Bukhari at the foreign ministry.
Bukhari had returned overnight to Lebanon to replace Saudi Ambassador Walid al-Yaaqoub.
“Bukhari's appointment at this time reflects the kingdom's keenness on improving ties between the two countries and on Lebanon's security and stability,” NNA said.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri had announced last week that Gulf states may soon lift the travel bans they have imposed on Lebanon.
“Gulf states are mulling re-allowing their citizens to visit Lebanon,” Hariri revealed.
“This would reflect positively on the tourism sector and on the economy in general,” the prime minister added.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait had in November warned their citizens against travel to Lebanon, amid a Lebanese-Saudi crisis sparked by Hariri's controversial resignation from Riyadh which he has since rescinded.
Saudi Arabia said at the time that it considers Hizbullah's participation in the Lebanese government an "act of war" against the kingdom.
Several Lebanon travel warnings have been issued by the Gulf states in recent years amid political tensions and security fears.