Tuesday, February 19, 2019
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Kuwait joins Gulf allies in banning travel to Lebanon

Kuwait follows Saudi, UAE and Bahraini move after Riyadh halted $4bn aid to Lebanon over "hostile" Hezbollah positions.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

Kuwait has become the latest Arab Gulf country - following Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain - to call its citizens to leave Lebanon or avoid travelling there.

The move on Wednesday came days after Riyadh halted $4bn in aid to Lebanese security forces in response to "hostile" positions linked to Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.

In a statement cited by the official KUNA news agency, the Kuwaiti embassy in Lebanon’s capital Beirut said all Kuwaitis should leave "except in extreme circumstances", and advised those who stay to exercise caution and avoid unspecified places which are not safe.

The statement gave no reason for the move.

READ MORE: Saudi, UAE and Bahrain ban citizens from travelling to Lebanon

On Tuesday, the Saudi foreign ministry issued a statement calling on "all citizens not to travel to Lebanon, for their safety, and asking citizens residing in Lebanon or visiting not to stay unless extremely necessary".

The statement, run by the official SPA news agency, urged citizens to contact the Saudi Embassy in Beirut.

Announcing the aid halt on Friday, an official said the kingdom had noticed "hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the state".

The UAE on Tuesday also banned its citizens from travelling to Lebanon and reduced its diplomatic presence in Beirut.

Bahrain also urged citizens against travelling to Lebanon, and called on Bahrainis there already to leave quickly, according to a statement posted to state news.

On Friday, the United Arab Emirates announced "full support" of Saudi's review of its relations with Lebanon, blaming the country's "failure to condemn Iran's aggression" after Saudi Arabia's embassy was attacked in Tehran in January.

The embassy attack followed the execution of a renowned Shia leader in Saudi Arabia over "terrorism" charges.

READ MORE: Lebanon vows to maintain Saudi ties despite tensions

On Monday, Lebanon tried to repair relations and vowed to support Arab countries and maintain its Arab identity.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam said that Lebanon should maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia and that Arab countries must garner a unified response to all obstacles that they face.

"Lebanon will not forget Saudi Arabia's role ... in helping it rebuild the country after the [1975-1990] civil war," Salam said after a cabinet session.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri also expressed loyalty to the kingdom.

Lebanon's main political divide pits a Sunni-led coalition against another led by the Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah movement.

Lebanon has seen a series of armed attacks in recent years linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

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