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UN chief warns new conflict in Lebanon would be 'devastating'

AFP

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, pictured in this October 26, 2017 file photo, says he has been talking with countries in the Middle East as well as nations with influence there in a bid to defuse the situation in Lebanon

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, pictured in this October 26, 2017 file photo, says he has been talking with countries in the Middle East as well as nations with influence there in a bid to defuse the situation in Lebanon (AFP Photo/FLORENT VERGNES)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that a new conflict in Lebanon would have "devastating consequences" and said he was engaged in intense contacts with all players to urge de-escalation.

Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri resigned in a shock announcement broadcast from Riyadh on Saturday as a power struggle intensified between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which backs Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

"It is essential that no new conflict erupt in the region," Guterres told reporters. "It would have devastating consequences."

"This is a matter of great concern to us. What we want is for peace to be preserved in Lebanon."

Guterres said he had been holding "very intense contacts" with Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, other countries in the region as well as governments with influence in the Middle East.

"We are indeed very worried and we hope that we won't see an escalation in the region that would have tragic consequences," said Guterres.

The UN chief spoke to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday.

The head of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement said in Beirut that Hariri was "detained" by Saudi Arabia and prevented from returning to Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon.

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