Lebanon will not be a “transit point for what could harm the brotherly Arab countries in general, and Saudi Arabia and Gulf states in particular, given the strong ties” which bind these nations, President Michel Aoun said yesterday.
This came during a meeting with Minister of Industry, Imad Hoballah, and a delegation from the Board of Directors of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia banned the entry of Lebanese vegetables and fruits after thwarting an attempt to smuggle narcotics in pomegranates.
“Saudi Arabia is a brotherly country and we are interested in preserving the existing economic cooperation with it. Today, we are exerting great efforts to uncover the circumstances of what happened and put things back on the right track,” Aoun said.
Meanwhile, Hoballah stressed on the importance of addressing the issue and uncovering the identities of those involved in smuggling operations.
He also hoped “to work on tightening controls through customs and in the various state institutions concerned with this matter to control smuggling operations.”
The head of the Association of Lebanese Farmers, Ibrahim Tarshishi, previously said in a statement that Saudi Arabia imports more than 50,000 tonnes of agricultural crops from Lebanon per year. Fruit and vegetable trade with Saudi Arabia is worth around $24 million per year.
On Sunday, the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon, Walid Al-Bukhari, said in a televised statement that over the past six years, the kingdom had seized more than 600 million narcotic pills and hundreds of kilogrammes of hashish coming from Lebanon.
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