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Saudi Arabia sending ambassador back to Lebanon

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday it would send its ambassador back to Lebanon after a diplomatic spat last year.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency reported that the kingdom made the decision after the “calls and appeals of the moderate national political forces in Lebanon”. The kingdom also said Lebanon had agreed to “stop all political, military and security activities affecting” it and other Gulf Arab nations.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati welcomed the Saudi decision. “We affirm that Lebanon is proud of its Arab affiliation and wants the best relations with the Gulf states, which were and will remain our support,” Mikati wrote on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador in 2021. Last December, France’s president and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince held a joint phone call with Lebanon’s prime minister during Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the kingdom to try to ease tensions between Beirut and Riyadh.

Lebanon is struggling with an economic crisis that began in October 2019, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement. The meltdown has left three-quarters of the small Mediterranean country’s population of six million people, including one million Syrian refugees, in poverty.

Meanwhile, the kingdom has hosted talks with Yemeni government officials and pro-government factions this month that saw that country’s exiled president cede power to a presidential council on Thursday in hopes of ending the coalition’s long war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels.