Saudi Arabia recalls ambassador to Germany over Gabriel comments

FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel presides the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

CAIRO (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has summoned its ambassador in Germany home for consultations over comments by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel about the political crisis in Lebanon.

The Saudi foreign ministry said the government also handed Germany's representative in Riyadh a protest note over what it said were "shameful" comments Gabriel made after a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart.

After a meeting in Berlin with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Gabriel told reporters that Europe "could not tolerate the adventurism that has spread there". It was not clear from a Reuters television recording that the remark was targeted at Saudi Arabia.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned while in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4.

"Such remarks provoke the surprise and disapproval of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which considers them as aimless and based on false information that would not help bring about stability in the region," the Saudi ministry said.

The ministry later said on its Twitter account it had summoned the German ambassador in Riyadh and handed him "a protest memorandum over the shameful and unjustified remarks made by the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel."

Hariri's abrupt resignation has raised concern over Lebanon's stability. He met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday, several hours after he left Saudi Arabia. Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said on Twitter Hariri had told him in a phone call from Paris he would be in Lebanon on Wednesday for Independence Day celebrations.

The German foreign ministry welcomed Hariri's departure from Saudi Arabia for Paris and impending return to Lebanon.

"We are very concerned about regional stability and call on sides to reduce tensions," the statement read. "We aim this message at all actors in the region."

(Reporting by Mohamed El-Sherif, writing by Sami Aboudi, Editing by Janet Lawrence and Toby Chopra)