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Beirut visit seeks to ease tension

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Beirut visit seeks to ease tension

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Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah have made an unprecedented joint visit to Beirut.

The two leaders are fearful a full-blown crisis could develop in Lebanon should a UN backed tribunal indict Hezbollah members for the 2005 assassination of Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri.

Hariri’s son, Saad, Lebanon’s current prime minister, has close links with Riyadh, while Hezbollah continues to draw support from Syria and Iran.

The visit by Bachar is the first since the 2005 killing, when Syrian troops were forced out of Lebanon.

Killed in a bomb blast in Beirut in 2005 the murder of Hariri drove a wedge between Abdullah and Assad, only reconciled last year.

Lebanon’s Saad Hariri has also made several trips to Damascus in a bid to forge better relations, but there are fears those could now be jeopardised.