Saudi Arabia says it hopes situation stabilises in Lebanon

CAIRO (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has followed events in Lebanon with interest and hopes the situation stabilises as soon as possible, its foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Tension over an investigation into a massive blast last year in Beirut developed into the worst street violence in more than a decade on Thursday, with six Shi’ites shot dead and gun battles reviving memories of the country’s 1975-90 civil war.

"The Kingdom aspires for Lebanon to achieve security and peace by ending the possession and use of weapons outside the framework of the state, and for strengthening the Lebanese state for the benefit of all Lebanese," the Saudi statement said.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah and its ally, the Shi’ite Amal Movement, accused the Lebanese Forces (LF), a Christian party that has close ties to Saudi Arabia, of attacking its supporters, who were gathering to demand the removal of the judge investigating last year’s port blast.

The LF denied any involvement and condemned the violence, which it blamed on Hezbollah "incitement" against Judge Tarek Bitar, the lead investigator into the port blast, which killed 200 people, wounded thousands and devastated swathes of Beirut.