UN secretary-general to visit Lebanon, Saudi Crown Prince invites Mikati

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Lebanon later this month to express support for the crisis-struck country, diplomatic sources said Friday.

Meanwhile, a French presidential source said Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman invited Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to visit the kingdom.

“[France] and Saudi Arabia have a list of projects to support Lebanon based on conditions,” an Elysee source told Al Arabiya.

While in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron and the Saudi Crown Prince held a call with Mikati expressing a willingness to assist if specific reforms were implemented and other conditions were fulfilled.

Ties have soured between Beirut and the Gulf, which has poured billions of dollars into Lebanon over the years, following the increased role and power given to Iran-backed Hezbollah.

But decades of rampant corruption and mismanagement of public funds led to the freefall of the Lebanese pound and an estimated 80 percent of the local population living in poverty, according to the UN.

The head of the UN is going to Lebanon from Dec. 19-22.

“He is going to express support for Lebanon,” a diplomatic source told Al Arabiya English.

Guterres is not expected to visit any other country in the region during his upcoming trip.

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