Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Visiting Lebanese patriarch meets Saad al-Hariri in Saudi Arabia

Visiting Lebanese patriarch meets Saad al-Hariri in Saudi Arabia

An Iranian official said on Tuesday Tehran hoped Saad al-Hariri would remain as Lebanon's prime minister and denied Hariri had resigned after a tense meeting with him in Beirut.

A poster of resigned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri with Arabic that read, "We are all with you", hangs on a street in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. France, Germany and the European Union yesterday called for an end to external interference in Lebanon, after the country's prime minister resigned unexpectedly, triggering rumours he was being held against his will in Saudi Arabia.

Hariri explained that his resignation was not officially accepted in Lebanon because it was announced from Riyadh.

In a television interview on Sunday, Hariri said he would return to Lebanon within days and held out the possibility he could rescind his resignation if Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen.

Meanwhile the French presidency welcomed Hariri's comment that he would soon be returning to Lebanon.

"We appeal first of all to the political forces to focus on Lebanon and what they can deliver to their citizens, Prime Minister Hariri to return to his country and the unity focus on domestic achievements", the bloc's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, told reporters.

The Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, has refused to accept the November 4 resignation, which came abruptly and under mysterious circumstances from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, until Hariri returns to the country.

In his announcement last week, Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of taking over his country and destabilising the broader region, saying he feared for his life.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hariri's resignation should serve as "a wake-up call to the worldwide community to take action against the Iranian aggression that is trying to turn Syria into a second Lebanon".

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