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Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon visits Tripoli to meet with religious leaders

by Apr 23, 2022Arab News

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari. Riyadh only recently reinstated its envoy to Beirut. Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon visited Tripoli, the country’s second-largest city, on Thursday to meet with a raft of key religious figures.

The visit of Walid Bukhari to northern Lebanon comes only weeks after Riyadh reinstated its envoy to Beirut, another sign tensions are easing between the two capitals.

At a meeting with Tripoli’s acting mufti, Sheikh Mohammad Imam, Mr Bukhari highlighted “the depth of the relationship with Lebanon and its citizens”.

He also met with Joseph Soueif, the Maronite archbishop of Tripoli, and Ephraim Kyriakos, the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Tripoli.

Lebanon’s state news agency reported Mr Bukhari’s visit was to exchange greetings during Ramadan and Easter.

The ambassador had met on Thursday with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who is reportedly due to visit Saudi Arabia soon.

Earlier this month Mr Bukhari hosted an iftar with key Lebanese political figures and western ambassadors

Saudi Arabia was one of four Arab states that withdrew their ambassadors from Lebanon in October 2021 after remarks by George Kordahi, then Lebanon’s information minister, about the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s intervention in Yemen. Mr Kordahi later resigned.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states were once major donors to Lebanon, but relations gradually worsened amid the growing influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

After withdrawing its ambassador last year, Saudi Arabia accused Hezbollah of turning Lebanon into “a launching pad for implementing projects of countries that do not wish well for Lebanon and its brotherly people”.

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