Saudi Arabia warns citizens against travelling to Lebanon

AFP , Wednesday 26 Jan 2011

Saudi Arabia warned its citizens against travelling to Lebanon until 'calm and stability' return, after a Tuesday's violent clashes in Tripoli and Beirut

The Saudi foreign ministry has advised its citizens against travelling to Lebanon "until the return of calm and stability," the official SPA news agency reported on Wednesday.

"Due to the developing situation in the republic of Lebanon, the foreign ministry advises Saudi citizens against travelling to Lebanon during this period until the return of calm and stability," a statement quoted by SPA said.

Demonstrations against the appointment of the so called "Hezbollah candidate" Najib Mikati as prime minister-designate turned violent on Tuesday in Lebanon as protesters burned tyres and temporarily blocked main highways.

Security was tight in Lebanon and several schools remained closed on Wednesday but traffic, disrupted on Tuesday, returned to normal. A heavy army presence could be seen across the country as shops re-opened.

Hezbollah and its allies brought down the government of Western and Saudi-backed Saad Al-Hariri on 12 January  after a long-running standoff over a UN-backed probe into the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Al-Hariri, Saad's father.

The Shia group has said it believes some of its members will be indicted by the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which it has denounced as part of a US-Israeli conspiracy.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said his country had abandoned mediation efforts in Lebanon, where he described the situation as "dangerous," in an interview with Al-Arabiya on 19 January .

Saudi King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad had been in contact "with commitment to end the whole Lebanon problem."

"When that did not happen, the custodian of the two holy mosques (the king) said he was pulling his hand out" from the effort, the prince told the Saudi-owned television news channel.

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