01/07/2017, 11.43
LEBANON - SAUDI ARABIA

Aoun in Riyadh, asserts independence on visit with Saudi "enemies"

On assuming the presidency, Aoun will not bow to past constraints and aims to restore the Land of the Cedar’s to its role as a nation of encounter.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Asserting his own and Lebanon’s political independence by dedicating his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia, that the country that has long opposed his ambition to the highest office of the Republic, because of his links with Hezbollah and then with Iran. Thisis how diplomatic circles are interpreting Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s decision to travel to Riyadh on Monday for a two day visit before going to Qatar, another important country in the Middle East alliances.

First Aoun wants to show that the alliance of his "Courant patriotique libre" with Hezbollah will not influence his Presidency, which he will carry out independently. In this logic, the trip is of relative importance. The fact that the deal that paved the way for his Presidency also allowed the return of Saad Hariri as head of  Government, leader of the Sunnis of the Courant du Futur, a great friend of the Saudis.

This equidistance from the opposing parties and the consequent freedom of action might foster Lebanon’s return as an example of coexistence that it had in the past, and even enable it to find the space to become a mediator between the Saudis and Iranians, or at least a moderator.

Aoun also hopes that the visit will bring financial gain: first the return of investors and the wealthy Gulf tourists to Lebanon and also those three billion dollars that Riyadh had promised to support the Lebanese army, but which stopped a year ago to protest Hezbollah’s hostile attitude. (YH)

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