UN secretary general Antonio Guterres warned Friday that a new conflict in Lebanon would have ‘devastating consequences’ and said he was engaged in intense contacts with all players to urge de-escalation.
Lebanon’s prime minister Saad Hariri resigned in a shock announcement broadcast from Riyadh on Saturday as a power struggle intensified between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which backs Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.
‘It is essential that no new conflict erupt in the region,’ Guterres told reporters. ‘It would have devastating consequences.’
‘This is a matter of great concern to us. What we want is for peace to be preserved in Lebanon.’
Guterres said he had been holding ‘very intense contacts’ with Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, other countries in the region as well as governments with influence in the Middle East.
‘We are indeed very worried and we hope that we won’t see an escalation in the region that would have tragic consequences,’ said Guterres.
The UN chief spoke to Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday.
The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement said in Beirut that Hariri was ‘detained’ by Saudi Arabia and prevented from returning to Lebanon.
The head of the group on Friday accused Saudi Arabia of asking his arch foe Israel to launch strikes on Lebanon.
‘The most dangerous thing is inciting Israel to strike Lebanon,’ Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address. ‘I’m talking about information that Saudi Arabia has asked Israel to strike Lebanon.’
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon.
‘Due to the situation in the Republic of Lebanon, the kingdom asks its nationals visiting or living in Lebanon to leave as soon as possible, and advises its citizens not to travel there,’ said a Saudi foreign ministry source, quoted by state news agency SPA.
Kuwait called on ‘all its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately’ and avoid going there as a precautionary measure, state agency KUNA reported a source at the foreign ministry as saying.
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