Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that he refuses to see Lebanon as a “conduit for what could harm the Arab countries in general and the Gulf in particular,” after Saudi Arabia announced that it would stop the entry of Lebanese vegetables and fruits or their transit after seizing millions of narcotic pills inside a shipment of pomegranates that came from Lebanon. The president, during his meeting with the Board of Directors of the Lebanese Industrialists Association, said that the Saudis have an understanding of their situation.
Aoun explained: “Saudi Arabia is a sister country and we are interested in preserving the existing economic cooperation with it (…).The Minister of Interior has been assigned to follow up the issue with the competent Saudi authorities, and it seems that there is an understanding, hoping that we will reach solutions”.
He stressed that measures taken in the meeting held last week at Baabda Palace will be implemented, indicating that the security services “will tighten control over the export movement from Lebanese land, sea, and air facilities to reassure countries that receive Lebanese agricultural and industrial products alike.”
Aoun confirmed the great effort the competent authorities are making to uncover the circumstances of what happened and to return matters to the right track. For him, the domestic industrial production during this time is crucial, particularly because the industry is the most capable sector in light of Lebanon’s economic crisis.
Lebanese Interior Minister Mohamed Fahmy said his ministry had “initiated contacts with the Saudi Ministry of Interior since millions of narcotic pills were seized hidden inside two shipments of pomegranate fruit coming from Lebanon to discuss security cooperation between the two sides.”
Fahmy expressed his country’s full readiness to cooperate with the security services in the Kingdom, pointing out attempts to persuade Saudi Arabia to reverse its banning decision.
There are efforts to find a solution for the suspended Lebanese trucks, which transport about a thousand tons of products; these exposed to deterioration in the event of an entry delay.
Saudi Arabia said that the ban will continue until the relevant Lebanese authorities provide sufficient and reliable guarantees and take the necessary measures to stop the systematic drug smuggling operations against the Kingdom, according to what was reported by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).