| 13 July 2024, Saturday |

Lebanon refuses to be a gateway for drug smuggling to any country, PM says

“Lebanon refuses to be a gateway for drug smuggling to any country including Saudi Arabia,” caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said as he answered a question about the Saudi import ban on Lebanese produce after a shipment of Captagon pills was intercepted by the kingdom.

There was concern that the ban, which took effect on Sunday, would spread to other Gulf states after the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman all issued statements in support of the Saudi decision.

The ban was announced after Saudi customs authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle in more than 5.3 million Captagon pills, a type of amphetamine, hidden in a pomegranate shipment from Lebanon, the kingdom’s SPA news agency reported.

Diab’s remarks were made on Saturday in a televised interview during which he said he doesn’t consider the ban to be “a political decision from the side of Riyadh”.

“I called on the security forces to cooperate with Saudi Arabia on this matter, and I entrusted the Minister of Interior with a follow-up on the issue with the kingdom,” Diab said.

In reference to the dire economic situation in Lebanon, he said “the social, economic and financial conditions were bad from the beginning as a result of accumulations over long decades, and we didn’t expect this huge number of successive calamities within only six months.”

The caretaker premier also voiced his rejection to lifting or rationalizing subsidies before providing the Lebanese society with an alternative, which consists in ration cards, he said. “We are working on a ration card and that was the reason for my visit to ‘brotherly’ Qatar,” Diab said.

“Qataris have shown willingness but the matter needs to be studied,” he added.

  • Sawt Beirut International