x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

President Assad and King Abdullah arrive in Beirut

The Syrian president and Saudi monarch land in Lebanon on a joint mission to defuse political tensions in the country.

The Syrian president, Bashar al Assad, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia landed in Lebanon today on an joint mission to defuse political tensions in the country. It is the first visit to the country by Mr Assad since the 2005 assassination of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri soured bilateral ties and forced the pullout of Syrian troops from Lebanon after a 29-year presence. Mr Assad and King Abdullah arrived together from Damascus and were greeted at Beirut airport by the Lebanese president Michel Sleiman, the prime minister Saad Hariri, son of the murdered leader, as well as other dignitaries.

They then headed to the presidential palace for a mini-summit hastily organised to address tensions over reports of an impending indictment against members of Lebanon's Shiite militant group for Rafiq Hariri's murder. * AFP