A delegation of three former Lebanese premiers asked Saudi Arabia for financial assistance to help shore up their country’s deteriorating finances ahead of a probable shift toward austerity.
Fouad Siniora, Najib Mikati and Tammam Salam met with King Salman on Monday in Riyadh and proposed ways the kingdom could help, Salam said in an interview.
“We brought up the financial issue and that Saudi used to place deposits and invest in treasury bills in the past. We said this would seriously contribute to fortifying Lebanon financially,” said Salam, who’s a member of parliament.
Saudi Arabia began mending ties with Lebanon earlier this year when it lifted a travel advisory imposed in 2013 and dispatched a team of officials from the Shura Council to Beirut.
Relations between the two countries took a hit after Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a close ally of the kingdom, resigned from Riyadh over Iran’s growing role in his country. Hariri rescinded the resignation amid claims it was orchestrated by the Saudis. Riyadh last year renewed a $1 billion credit line to Lebanon.
Lebanon has pledged to reduce its budget deficit, fight corruption and overhaul its loss-making state-owned utility company to unlock $11 billion in loans and grants offered at an investor summit last year. Parliament is discussing the much-delayed 2019 budget in hopes of showing the international community that it’s serious about reforms.
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