Lebanon's 'detained' premier to travel to France

Katrina Barker
Ноября 16, 2017

Nothing justifies that he has not returned after 12 days.

Iran said on Monday that it does not interfere in Lebanon and that comments on Sunday by Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese prime minister nine days ago, gave hope he would soon return to his country, state TV reported.

The 47-year-old announced his resignation on November 4 in a surprise move that coincided with a sweeping purge in the Saudi kingdom's elite, ostensibly over embezzlement accusations.

He also expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia for "decades of support" for Lebanon's national institutions.

Earlier Wednesday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun alleged Hariri was being "held captive" in Saudi Arabia, and that Lebanon couldn't make any decision about Hariri's resignation until he returned.

Hariri is a Saudi ally who holds dual citizenship.

Israel has stressed that it does not seek war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, but has launched multiple airstrikes to prevent advanced weaponry from reaching the Iran-inspired group, the most powerful military force in Lebanon. Hezbollah has said Saudi Arabia forced Hariri to resign in order to bring down his coalition government, which includes the group. Therefore, we consider him captive and detained (in Saudi Arabia), which is contrary to the Vienna Convention, the rector of diplomatic relations, Aoun said. He said Arab mediation to resolve the crisis had failed.

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

In a quick response to Aoun, Hariri tweeted that he was fine and will return to Lebanon as promised.

Lebanon has been buffeted for decades by conflicts between bigger players in the region such as Iran and Syria.

But Bassil, who is on a European tour seeking support for his country amid the crisis, said that Lebanon also has the option of resorting to global law, without elaborating.

France's foreign minister is expected in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to meet with Hariri and Saudi officials.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he had an "informal contact" with Hariri, during his visit to Dubai, adding that France did not receive any request from Lebanese ex-prime minister to come to the country.

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