Saturday, March 01, 2008

Saudi Arabia advises nationals to leave Lebanon

This follows the Saudi Foreign Ministry warning (Feb 2) to its citizens against travel to Lebanon due to the unstable political and security situation (al-Sharq al-Awsat)

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has advised its citizens in Lebanon, especially families living there, to leave the country immediately due to the security situation, several Saudi nationals said on Saturday.

The United States had said on Thursday it deployed the USS Cole off the Lebanese coast because it was concerned about the political deadlock in Lebanon, provoking criticism from Hezbollah and Syria.

There was no immediate comment from the Saudi embassy in Lebanon.

The nationals said they had received a text message with the advice and a hotline number was also provided. One citizen called the number to verify the information in the text message and was told it was true.

Last month Saudi Arabia issued an advisory urging its citizens not to travel to Lebanon because of deteriorating political and security conditions.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia is a major supporter of the Sunni-led government in Lebanon which has been locked in a 15-month-old political standoff with an opposition led by Iranian-and-Syrian backed Hezbollah.

Tension in the region has also increased after the assassination of a Hezbollah commander in the Syrian capital Damascus last month.

Hezbollah said Israel was behind the killing of Imad Moughniyah and welcomed "open war" if Israel wanted one.

(Reporting by Nadim Ladki; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Keith Weir)

Read also:
'USS Cole' sent to Lebanese coast

Hezbollah fury as USS Cole dispatched to Lebanon"

"Saudi-Syrian crisis over Lebanon"


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