| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

Lebanon’s president calls for meeting over Saudi export ban

Lebanese President Michel Aoun called on Saturday for a meeting to be held Monday at noon at the Baabda Palace in a bid to follow up on the repercussions of Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to ban Lebanese fruits and vegetables from entering its territories.

The meeting is set to be held in the presence of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and ministers of national defense, agriculture, interior and municipalities, foreign affairs and emigrants, finance and economy and trade.

Leaders of security apparatuses and customs as well as concerned officials in the agricultural sector are also due to attend the meeting which will discuss the circumstances behind the Saudi decision and the measures that should be taken to address its consequences.

Saudi Arabia said on Friday it was banning fruits and vegetables originating from Lebanon from entering or transiting through the kingdom due to an increase in drug smuggling, Saudi state media reported.

Saudi Arabia said there have been no practical measures taken to stop the smuggling by Lebanese authorities, state news agency SPA said.

The ban will start at 0900 local time on Sunday until Lebanese authorities provide “sufficient and reliable” guarantees they will take the necessary measures to stop systematic drug smuggling operations in the kingdom.

Lebanon’s foreign ministry said on Friday it had been informed by Saudi Arabia’s embassy about the above-mentioned decision.

“The decision was transferred to top officials,” Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe said in a statement.

The ministry statement said the illegal practice of drug smuggling using export cargoes harmed the Lebanese economy and said it had urged the security authorities to work diligently to foil any attempts that ultimately harmed Lebanese farmers.