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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

New Saudi ambassador arrives in Lebanon

Walid Bukhari had previously served several years as chargé d’affaires

The new ambassador is far from new to Lebanon. AFP
The new ambassador is far from new to Lebanon. AFP

Walid Bukhari, Saudi's latest ambassador to Lebanon has arrived in Beirut, the Lebanese national news agency reported.

“We will strive together to preserve the security, stability and sovereignty of Lebanon”, said Mr Bukhari in a speech at the airport on Wednesdaty afternoon, in front of several top Lebanese officials and foreign ambassadors, including UAE ambassador Hamad Saeed Shamsi, who had come to greet him.

Mr Bukhari’s arrival follows a November 18 tweet in which he announced that he had taken an oath in front of Saudi King Salman to serve as “an extraordinary ambassador plenipotentiary of Saudi Arabia to Lebanon.”

Mr Bukhari is not new to Lebanon, having served as chargé d’affaires since last March, when previous Saudi ambassador Walid Yacoub left after only a few months in the job. Mr Bukhari also served as chargé d’affaires between 2016 and Mr Yacoub’s appointment in late 2018, according to local media.

A source told Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star that Mr Bukhari will submit his credentials to Lebanese president Michel Aoun in the next few days.

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Mr Yacoub was appointed ambassador late November during a tense time in Lebanese-Saudi relations, several weeks after Lebanese Prime Minister’s surprise resignation on November 4 in Riyad, which sparked a major crisis between the two countries. He had to wait until January to present his credentials to Mr Aoun, local media reported.

A few days after Mr Hariri’s resignation, Mr Aoun had complained to Mr Bukhari that the circumstances surrounding the resignation were unacceptable.

Mr Bukhari also ridiculed rumours that Mr Hariri was held against his will, infuriating some Lebanese politicians. Early December, Mr Hariri rescinded his resignation.