Macron Invites Lebanese PM Hariri to France Amid Rumors of His Detention

Kristopher Drake
November 16, 2017

It was the first time Michel Aoun described Prime Minister Saad Hariri as a detainee of the kingdom, after Hariri announced his resignation under mysterious circumstances from Saudi Arabia 12 days ago.

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.

Shortly after Aoun's statement, Hariri also took to Twitter in an apparent bid to quell rumours of his detention.

The head of the Lebanese State denounced that the Prime Minister, who resigned on November 4, is being held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and a few minutes later, Hariri replied that he will return. 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.

The development came as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in Riyadh where he met Prince Mohammed late Wednesday.

France, Lebanon's onetime colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate in the crisis, and Macron paid a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia last week. "You will see", Hariri wrote, without elaborating. Tehran has accused Riyadh and its allies of trying to stoke tension in the Middle East.

Rai also held talks with Hariri, who during his resignation speech accused Hizballah, the powerful Shia movement that is part of his government but also close to Iran, of controlling Lebanon.

The president said that the country is safe economically, financially and regarding security.

While he was guarded in his first reactions to Hariri's absence, Aoun has since stepped up the rhetoric.

In a television interview on Sunday, Hariri said he will return home in days to formally submit his resignation.

Lebanon has been buffeted for decades by conflicts between bigger players in the region such as Iran and Syria. However, the Saudi government has publically stated that Hariri is free to travel.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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