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Lebanese PM Hariri accepts invitation to France

17 November, 2017, 00:32 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic ties but have a shared interest in countering Iran
Credit
Ariel Schalit  AP

The announcement that Hariri will head to France came after Le Drian met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"I wait for the return of President (of the council of ministers) Hariri to decide the next move regarding the government", Aoun said during a meeting with journalists.

As it was unclear when Hariri will leave Saudi Arabia to return home, the timing of the meeting "may be adjusted", the aide said.

Hariri's older brother meanwhile broke his silence over the premier's shock resignation announced from Riyadh earlier this month, after speculation that the elder Hariri was being groomed by Saudi Arabia to fill the post. 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.

Rafik Al-Hariri, initially a businessman, was the Prime Minister of Lebanon between 1992 and 1998, and again since 2000 until his resignation in 2004.

El-Rai and Saudi Charge d'Affaires Walid al-Bukhari said the kingdom is not likely to deport Lebanese citizens as punishment for the participation of the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanese politics.




Aoun has said he will not formally accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia is locked in a feud with Iran over regional influence; both countries support different groups in Lebanon. In his strongest statements yet about the crisis, Aoun said Wednesday there was no reason for the prime minister not to return to Lebanon.

"Whenever we see a problem, we see Hezbollah act as an arm or agent of Iran and this has to come to an end", he said. A White House statement on Saturday described Hariri as "a trusted partner of the United States in strengthening Lebanese institutions, fighting terrorism, and protecting refugees". He said that Saudi Arabia had violated the International Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, given that the prime minister is being held without charge. He said Arab mediation to resolve the crisis had failed.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has toured European capitals seeking diplomatic help to end the crisis.

Hezbollah, a group of Iran-backed Shiite Muslims centered in Lebanon, is the dominant political and military force in Lebanon.

Sources close to the prime minister said that he was forced to quit by Saudi officials in Riyadh.

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