Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari stressed on Tuesday the need for reforms in the country and for the presidential elections to be held on time.
Bukhari met with head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, in Maarab to discuss the latest developments in Lebanon and the region.
After the nearly two-hour meeting, Geagea said: “Saudi Arabia will not deal with a president who prioritizes the non-state over the state.”
He revealed that the talks focused on the Lebanese crisis and the upcoming elections.
“Key to resolving this crisis is the presidential election,” remarked Geagea.
Moreover, he declared that there can be no salvation in Lebanon without its “Arab depth” and commitment to its “people and constitution, which is the Taif Accord.”
“Some believe Saudi Arabia is no longer interested in Lebanon. I didn’t sense that. Rather I believe it is very interested in Lebanon. The problem is that the Kingdom is persuaded that the state in Lebanon no longer wants to deal with it,” he went on to say.
“What I gathered from this meeting is that the Saudi leadership has prepared major aid packages and that is important for us to have a president, prime minister and trustworthy state,” Geagea added.
“The Kingdom is not prepared to deal with any Lebanese official who is embroiled in financial or political corruption,” he stressed.
“The onus is on us to present to the world the beautiful image of Lebanon, the one we had known in the past, not the image of the Lebanon of corruption, hunger, garbage, and humiliating queues in front of gas stations, pharmacies, bakeries and others,” he continued.
“Lebanon is a founding member of the Arab League and must stand at an equal distance from all Arab brothers, not export revolutions to Syria, Iraq or Yemen,” he said.
Asked by reporters if Saudi Arabia supports his nomination as president, Geagea replied: “We did not discuss the issue of candidates in any way, shape or form.”
“They have never delved into names. But we did discuss what the characteristics of the president must be, because naturally, they will not accept to deal with a president who is corrupt or prioritizes the non-state over the state,” he explained.
President Michel Aoun's term ends next month and a date for the elections is yet to be scheduled by the parliament speaker.
Bukhari had previously met with head of the Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt.
Jumblatt said the ambassador underscored Saudi Arabia’s keenness on Lebanon’s stability, the Taif Accord and constitution.
“We, the Lebanese, must respect constitutional deadlines and elect a president,” he urged.