Saudi Ambassador Holds Talks with Officials on Presidential Elections

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri held a series of meetings on Tuesday with a number of officials on the latest local and regional developments, especially Wednesday's presidential elections, reported the National News Agency.

He kicked off his talks by meeting Speaker Nabih Berri at his Ain el-Tineh residence after which he expressed Riyadh's support for Lebanon's security and agreement among its people.

“I also stressed to the speaker that the election of a new president is up to the people themselves,” he remarked.

The ambassador then headed to the Grand Serail for talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

Asiri had arrived in Lebanon with his family on Friday to resume his diplomatic duties, but denied that his return is linked to the upcoming presidential vote.

"The Kingdom did not and will not meddle in Lebanese affairs,” he said.

He added: “The Lebanese are the ones to choose their president and they are capable of doing so. The choice must be made in Lebanon and I returned to resume my diplomatic duties.”

"We are working on reaching an agreement between all local political forces to avoid vacuum (in the presidency),” Asiri noted.

Lawmakers last week failed to elect a new president as differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances led to a lack of quorum in the second parliamentary session aimed at choosing a new head of state.

While the March 14 camp held onto its candidate Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance, except for Speaker Nabih Berri's Development and Liberation bloc, boycotted the second round over lack of consensus on one candidate.

The third round of the polls is scheduled for Wednesday, but hopes are low that quorum will be met due to the lingering political differences.



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