Lebanon investigates recorded death threats against Saudi embassy

Lebanon's Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi speaks during a press conference as he announces final results for some districts in Lebanon's parliamentary elections at the Interior Ministry in Beirut, Lebanon May 16, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

BEIRUT, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Lebanon's interior minister on Wednesday asked security forces to investigate death threats against the Saudi embassy in Lebanon after Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon shared a recording containing such threats on his Twitter account.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said his order was based on his "concern for Lebanon's interest and security and good relations with brotherly nations, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", a ministry statement said.

Saudi Ambassador Walid al-Bukhari earlier shared a tweet from a pro-Saudi account containing a recording by a man, who the interior ministry believes to be a Saudi national living in Beirut's southern suburbs, a stronghold of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

The interior ministry statement said he was "wanted by Saudi authorities for terrorist crimes".

The man says that if anything happens to any member of his family, "no employee at the Saudi embassy will remain alive... I will annihilate everyone in the Saudi embassy, everyone who is related to the Saudi embassy."

The Saudi Embassy in Lebanon was not immediately available for comment and the Saudi government's media centre did not respond to a request for comment.

Some Lebanese officials have tried to improve ties with Saudi Arabia, once a major donor, after years of decline over the growing influence in Lebanon of Hezbollah, a group classified by both Riyadh and the United States as a terrorist group.

Relations hit a low last year when Saudi Arabia banned imports of Lebanese goods over drug smuggling concerns and then recalled its ambassador after critical comments by a pro-Hezbollah minister.

The ambassador returned earlier this year, and Saudi Arabia has since pledged limited financial support to the Lebanese health sector along with France, which has spearheaded international efforts for Saudi re-engagement with Lebanon.

Reporting by Timour Azhari; Editing by Nick Macfie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.