Salam Arrives in Saudi: Al-Rahi Did Not Ask Me to Propose Extension of Suleiman Term

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Prime Minister Tammam Salam announced Monday that he will not discuss the presidential vote with Saudi officials during his visit to the kingdom, denying that Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi had asked him to propose the extension of President Michel Suleiman's term.

“Al-Rahi did not ask me to convey a proposal on extending Suleiman's term and my visit to Saudi Arabia is not for discussing the presidential election, which is for the Lebanese to conduct,” Salam told reporters onboard the plane that carried him to the Gulf state.

He revealed that “the issue of Syrian refugees will be raised with Saudi officials,” noting that he will ask for full support and that the idea of creating camps on the border will be mulled.

“There is a successful experience in Jordan” in this regard, the prime minister added.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Salam told Agence France Presse that his visit to Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with the presidential elections in Lebanon and that it aims to thank the kingdom for the support it is offering to Lebanon.

Later on Monday, state-run National News Agency said al-Mustaqbal movement leader MP Saad Hariri threw a dinner banquet in honor of Salam and the accompanying delegation in the city of Jeddah.

Salam, who arrived Monday in Riyadh on his first official foreign trip since the formation of his cabinet in February, is expected to meet with Saudi King Abdullah and senior Saudi officials.

The premier stressed in remarks to As Safir newspaper “the importance of staging the presidential elections on time,” saying that the rival parties have no “good reason not to, which is a stance I will convey to the Saudi leadership during my visit.”

“My visit to the kingdom is to thank its leadership for all the aid it offered to Lebanon,” the premier said.

He said that the delegation will tackle with Saudi officials all the local crises to seek the Gulf country's help, in particular the Syrian refugee crisis.

Salam also told the Saudi Okaz newspaper that his two-day visit “is significantly important as Saudi Arabia is a key supporter of Lebanon's stability.”

“The kingdom is keen to safeguard Lebanon's unity, security and stability.”

The PM said that he was “determined to make Saudi Arabia his first official trip to stress its important rank.”

The prime minister is expected to visit Kuwait after his trip to Saudi Arabia.

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas, who will accompany Salam, told al-Liwaa newspaper that the delegation will tackle the Syrian refugee crisis.

“Lebanon cannot endure on its own the burden of those refugees.”

Lebanon has not signed the international refugee convention, but had generally kept its border open to people fleeing the conflict in Syria despite the scale of the influx.

The country hosts more refugees from Syria than any other country, with 52,000 Palestinians among a total of more than a million. It now has the highest refugee population per capita in the world.

Derbas expected the visit to be positive noting that Salam's visit to Kuwait is awaiting any developments regarding the presidential deadlock ahead of the May 25 deadline.


Comments 10
Missing politik_buro 19 May 2014, 20:54

Vote Nigel Farage, someone who understands the dangers of uncontrolled foreign influx!!

Thumb cedre 20 May 2014, 00:02

nigel is an idiot working for the city, that ruined the british 'economy'...

Missing politik_buro 19 May 2014, 21:43

Marine Le Pen?

Thumb cedre 20 May 2014, 00:03

vlaams belang ?

Missing politik_buro 19 May 2014, 23:41

I have indeed, Irish to be specific, and I'm voting Labor, we have to keep the balance between left and right man!!

Thumb cedre 20 May 2014, 00:03

dont tell me u're living in ROI ?

Missing politik_buro 20 May 2014, 00:51

I am indeed, I've been here since 2002

Thumb cedre 20 May 2014, 00:59

in Dublin ? used to work there for DIT kevin street...

Missing politik_buro 20 May 2014, 01:52

I lived in Dublin for a while, Bachelor's Walk on O'Connell Street, but moved to the country side once I had a family, a lot more peaceful, you can't beat the Irish country side!!

Missing politik_buro 20 May 2014, 00:53

Good stuff, u can't beat tablets for mobility, I'm thinking HTC M8, no pun intended!!! Looks ideal for blogging on the go