Aoun Meets Qatar’s Emir after Concluding SA Visit

President Michel Aoun held talks on Wednesday with Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Doha, in the presence of Lebanese and Qatari delegations, the National News Agency reported.

Aoun and his accompanying delegation have concluded a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia and flew to Qatar on Wednesday as part of the President’s Arab tour, and to meet the invitation of Qatar’s emir, NNA said.

Qatar’s Emir and Aoun, later held a closed meeting after which al-Thani said: “Lebanon has begun a new phase after the election of a president,” as he hailed Aoun’s election “because he will lead Lebanon to safety,” he said.

“Lebanon has been able to overcome all obstacles. It was stronger than the circumstances surrounding it,” added the Emir.

He continued and said: “I hope that President Aoun’s visit is a prelude for an exchange of visits between the two countries.”

Aoun responded, conveying thanks for the “warm reception” and praising the “bilateral relations between the two countries, which must be strengthened in all areas.”

Aoun extended an invitation to the Emir to visit Lebanon .

Sources close to the Lebanese delegation, told LBCI that al-Thani has vowed to follow up on the file of the Lebanese servicemen abducted by the IS.

Qatar has extended assistance in the thorny file when it helped mediate with the abductors over the release of the servicemen who were kidnapped during clashes with the Islamic State terror group and al-Nusra Front in Arsal in 2014.

Aoun began his Arab tour on Monday where he arrived in Riyadh with a delegation of ministers.

It is his first trip to the kingdom since his election in November ended a two-year deadlock between Iran- and Saudi-backed blocs in the Lebanese parliament.

The ministers of foreign affairs, education, finance and information who were accompanying Aoun, met with their Saudi counterparts “to find some fields of cooperation.”

Aoun and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz agreed to hold talks on restoring a $3-billion military aid package, opening a “new page” in relations, a Lebanese official source said.

“The blockage is lifted,” said the official in the delegation of Aoun, who held talks over lunch with King Salman in the Saudi capital.

In February, the kingdom halted the $3-billion (2.8-billion-euro) military aid package to Lebanon to protest what it said was “the stranglehold of Hizbullah on the state”.

The program would see Riyadh fund the transfer of vehicles, helicopters, drones, cannons and other military equipment from France, which has been seeking to boost arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.