Hariri says to return to Lebanon in next two days

Pauline Gross
November 16, 2017

Lebanon's President Michael Aoun said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has detained Prime Minister Saad Hariri since his resignation in Riyadh on November 4.

Worldwide pressure has been mounting for Hariri to return to Beirut after his prolonged stay in the kingdom since he announced in a televised speech from Riyadh on November 4 that he would be stepping down, tipping his country into crisis.

"Only a pernicious outside actor, such as Iran and its surrogate, Hezbollah, can upset the balance as this group now seeks to take control of Lebanon".

The political crisis has thrust tiny Lebanon to the forefront of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran being played out on battlefields from Syria to Yemen.

Hariri "should arrive in France in the coming days", a source at the French presidency told AFP.

Macron's office said in a statement Wednesday that he made the decision after speaking to Hariri and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Macron's call came as Lebanese President Michel Aoun said also on Wednesday that Hariri was being held against his will in Saudi capital Riyadh.

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The Saudi government has denied holding him against his will or putting pressure on him to resign in an attempt to curb the influence of its regional rival Iran, the BBC reported.

Rouhani also accused Saudi Arabia, without naming the kingdom, of "begging" Israel to bomb Lebanon.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has called for "patience and calm" from Lebanese citizens, as Nasrallah fears that Hariri's resignation will be "very destabilizing" for the region.

In April 2005, two months after their father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a Beirut bombing, the family announced that Saad would assume his father's political mantle, skipping over his brother, Bahaa, who is several years his senior. He said Hariri needed to return to Lebanon to prove he was free. Hariri's father, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a auto bomb explosion in 2005, which officials believe was planted by Hezbollah agents, and Hariri said he feared the same fate. Therefore, we consider him captive and detained (in Saudi Arabia), which is contrary to the Vienna Convention, the rector of diplomatic relations, Aoun said. Aoun is a Hezbollah ally, but is personally close to Hariri.

"No decision can be made on a resignation from overseas", Aoun added.

"Hariri's remarks on Sunday gave small hope of the possibility of his return to Lebanon... You'll see", Hariri tweeted.

Other reports by GizPress

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