RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia announced on Friday an import ban on fruits and vegetables from Lebanon because the Kingdom said shipments are being used to smuggle drugs. 

Products, especially vegetables and fruits, are being used by drug traffickers to smuggle drugs into Saudi Arabia’s territory, according to a statement by the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry published by Saudi Arabian news agency SPA.

The ban, which will take effect on Sunday, will remain until Lebanese authorities provide sufficient and reliable guarantees that necessary measures have been taken to prevent smuggling.

To assess the necessity of similar restrictions on other products from Lebanon, shipments of other products will also be closely monitored, the ministry added.

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement that Saudi Arabia informed Lebanon about the decision.

It instructed security services to do their utmost to prevent smuggling activities by tightening security at border gates in light of laws criminalizing smuggling and drug use.

Lebanon is still trying to form a new government amid differences between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun.

The Arab country is facing a severe economic crisis, with the local currency losing nearly all value against the US dollar.

Streets across the nation have been blocked by protests and rallies regarding the crisis, the worst since the country’s civil war from 1975 -1990.  

*Writing by Burak Dag in Ankara

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