Lebanese PM Hariri accepts invitation to France

by Antonio Miles November 17, 2017, 0:34
Lebanese PM Hariri accepts invitation to France

Macron said he was not offering Hariri political "exile", but that it was paramount to dispel fears that Saudi Arabia had taken the Lebanese premier prisoner. The comments were published on his official Twitter account.

Hariri is expected in France in the coming days, according to an official in President Emmanuel Macron's office.

"The accusation that the kingdom would hold a prime minister or a former prime minister is not true, especially a political ally like" Hariri, al-Jubeir said during a press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian who is visiting Saudi Arabia.

Saudi officials have criticized Lebanon's current political structure, arguing that Iran has hijacked the Arab country through its proxy, Hezbollah.

"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.

Le Drian later met with Hariri. Hariri is a dual Lebanese-Saudi national and has several homes in the kingdom, where his immediate family also lives. "But they are rejected and are baseless and untrue", al-Jubeir said. Hariri supported the group and provided it with political cover while it supported Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his forces in the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, but because Hariri has stepped down, the group now fears that they will face strict sanctions from the USA government. When asked about reports that he is not communicative and doesn't use his phone much, he said: "I am in a reflective state", adding that he didn't want any distractions amid a very busy schedule.

Aoun is an ally of Hezbollah but had been close to Hariri before the crisis.

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Hariri refuted supporting the Iran-backed guerrilla group in any way, announcing his resignation the following day from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile ratcheted up the rhetoric against Saudi Arabia, his country's main regional rival, saying the kingdom pressured Hariri to resign in a "rare" intervention in another nation's affairs.

The kingdom has been demanding that Hezbollah play no role in future government, accusing the group of supporting anti-Saudi Yemen rebels known as Houthis.

France, Lebanon's onetime colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate the crisis.

The Elysee Palace said that Macron issued the invitation after talks with Hariri and Mohammed bin Salman.

On Wednesday, the front page of the daily Lebanese Al-Akhbar boasted: "Saudi loses, ' hailing the French for their proposal to end the deadlock".


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