Arab leaders call for meeting to halt violence in Lebanon's capital
Syrian and Qatari leaders said Friday that
the Lebanese crisis is an "internal affair," while Egypt and Saudi
Arabia called for an emergency Arab foreign ministers' meeting to discuss the
situation in Beirut, media reports said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani held talks over the situation in Beirut, after the capital was struck with a civil violence for the third day, Syria's SANA news agency said.
Both leaders have agreed that Beirut's crisis is "an internal affair" that needs to be resolved through a Lebanese dialogue.
Syria dominated Lebanon for about 30 years. Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon after the killing of former premier Rafik Hariri in 2005.
However, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have called for an immediate meeting of the Arab foreign ministers to discuss the crisis, Hossam Zaki, spokesman for Egyptian foreign ministry, was quoted as saying in MENA news agency.
He said the emergency meeting is planned to be held within two days.
The joint Saudi-Egyptian call to hold the meeting came in the late hours of Thursday, after Beirut was wracked by clashes between Shiite Hezbollah opposition militiamen and Sunnis loyal to the government majority.
Syria and Iran back the Shiite opposition of Hezbollah.
Earlier, Saudi state television reported that an unnamed Saudi official called upon all Lebanese political factions to consider Lebanon's interests and resolve the crisis.
"Lebanon's plunge into blind turmoil would only be a victory foreign extremist forces," the official said.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, a key supporter of the Lebanese government, has called all Saudis residing in Lebanon to leave Beirut, the Saudi newspaper al-Sharq an-Awsat said.
"Since the tensions began, we have been sending SMS messages to the mobile phones of Saudi citizens asking those wishing to leave Lebanese territories to coordinate with the embassy in Beirut," Abdul Aziz al-Khoja, official at Saudi's foreign minister, was quoted as saying to al-Sharq al-Awsat.
He said some 70 nationals has already left Beirut on Thursday and returned back to Saudi Arabia through Syria.
More Saudis will be evacuated from the capital on Friday, Khoja added, dpa reported.