BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri was optimistic that Saudi Arabia would continue to support Lebanon under the new leadership of King Salman.

“Saudi Arabia will maintain its supportive policy toward Lebanon under the reign of the King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz,” Hariri told pan-Arab daily Ash-Sharq al-Awsat in comments published Wednesday.

“The Lebanese have known King Salman for decades as a friend, a brother and a supporter of hundreds of politicians, intellectuals, journalists, businessmen and economists, to the extent that it was said that he knows more about Lebanon than many Lebanese do.”

Hariri explained that King Salman was keen on maintaining the distinctive relationship that links Saudi Arabia and Lebanon since the days of the founder King Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, adding that King Salman was of the belief that Riyadh should do whatever it is in its capacity to restore security and stability in Lebanon and the Arab countries.

Hariri said Saudi Arabia maintained this consistent approach vis-a-vis all Arab countries. The Saudi support was felt by the Lebanese during the numerous crises Lebanon went through, including the 1975-90 Civil War and repeated Israeli offenses against Lebanon that have inflicted much damage to south Lebanon, Hariri said.

“The kingdom was always the first to stand firmly by Lebanon, support it in the Arab and international forums, and generously help reduce the effects of the attacks and enable the Lebanese to rise again,” Hariri told the Saudi daily.

According to Hariri, King Salman was keen on bolstering and preserving the “distinguished Lebanese-Saudi ties.” Hariri recalled that King Salman had special ties with his father, late former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

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He added that King Salman has always had “sincere feelings” toward Lebanon and was always keen on preserving Lebanon’s interests and rejected all interference in Lebanon’s internal issues.

King Salman has long stressed that Riyadh was keen on Lebanon “healing from its internal and external problems, so that it can play its role in the Arab world and the whole world,” Hariri said.

“Lebanon is always in the heart of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, just as it was in the heart of late King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz who made exceptional efforts over the years to preserve the security and stability of Lebanon, and stop it from sliding into the wars and that raged in the region and threatened to extend to our country,” the Lebanese former prime minister said.

Hariri noted that the $3 billion Saudi grant to furnish the Lebanese Army with equipment from France and the additional $1 billion grant to buttress the capabilities of the Army and other Lebanese security agencies, demonstrated Saudi Arabia’s policy of supporting Lebanese state institutions in the face of increasing security challenges.

“Thus far, the total grants from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia amount to $4 billion in a precedent that Lebanon has never seen before, from any other brotherly or friendly state since its establishment,” Hariri said.

“This is clear evidence of Saudi Arabia’s support for Lebanon and its attachment to Lebanon’s security and stability, because it considers that Lebanon’s recovery and survival is an element of strength for the rest of the Arab countries,” Hariri added.

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– See more at: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2015/Jan-29/285662-lebanon-in-king-salmans-heart-hariri.ashx#sthash.rlmi5iGC.dpuf

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