Salam to Meet Hariri during Visit to Saudi Arabia

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Prime Minister Tammam Salam is expected to meet with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a short official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Sources told al-Mustaqbal newspaper published on Monday that Hariri will hold a dinner banquet for Salam and the accompanying delegation.

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

Salam 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 refugees crisis.

Salam also told the Saudi Okaz newspaper that his two-day visit “is significantly important as Saudi Arabia is a key supporter for 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.

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