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‘Avoid Lebanon,’ Saudi Arabia and UAE tell citizens

Move follows Riyadh’s $4 billion cut to Lebanese army; Emirates to pull diplomats out

File: A file picture taken on September 21, 2015 shows a portrait of Hassan Nasrallah (top), the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, and portraits of pro-government force members killed in combat displayed on a street in the Syrian capital, Damascus. (AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID)
File: A file picture taken on September 21, 2015 shows a portrait of Hassan Nasrallah (top), the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, and portraits of pro-government force members killed in combat displayed on a street in the Syrian capital, Damascus. (AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday urged their citizens not to travel to Lebanon, days after Riyadh cut $4 billion in aid to Lebanese security forces.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry’s announcement, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, urged citizens already there to depart or to be in contact with the Saudi Embassy in Beirut. It gave no reason for the warning other than unspecified safety concerns.

The United Arab Emirates said it would pull most of its diplomats out of Lebanon and warned its own citizens not to travel there, according to a statement carried by the state-run WAM news agency. It did not elaborate or offer a reason for the decision.

Saudi Arabia announced Friday that it was halting deals worth $4 billion aimed at equipping and supporting Lebanese security forces in retaliation for Lebanon siding with Iran in the Sunni kingdom’s spat with the Shiite power.

Lebanon’s main political divide pits a Sunni-led coalition against another led by the Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement. Lebanon has seen a series of militant attacks in recent years linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

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