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Lebanon's PM aims to be back for Independence Day

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-20 07:13

PARIS - A fortnight after surprisingly announcing his resignation in Saudi Arabia, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Saturday that he would return to Lebanon for Independence Day celebrations on Nov 22 and "make known his position on all subjects".

He made the remarks after a meeting and a lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace.

Hariri arrived in Paris with his wife Lara on Saturday morning from the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.

"I will go to Beirut in the coming days. I will participate in the celebration of our independence, and I will make known my position on all subjects after having met (Lebanese) President Michel Aoun," Hariri was quoted as saying by the French TV channel BFMTV.

"Hariri called Aoun to confirm that he would return to the country by Nov 22, shortly after the PM arrived in Paris from Riyadh," said a statement issued by Lebanon's presidential media office.

According to a statement released later by parliament speaker Nabih Berri, Hariri called the speaker and said he would attend Wednesday's celebrations, along with Aoun and Berri.

The Lebanese prime minister announced his resignation this month in a televised speech aired from Riyadh and his visit there had stretched to more than 10 days despite repeated calls from Beirut for his return, leading to speculations about his freedom of travel, including President Aoun's accusation that Saudi Arabia was "detaining" Hariri.

'Rumors' dismissed

Hariri said on Friday on his Twitter account that his stay in Riyadh was for consultations on Lebanon's future and its relations with Arab countries. He dismissed as "rumors" the reports that he had been held against his will in Saudi Arabia.

"As you know I have resigned and we will talk about this matter in Lebanon," Hariri said after thanking Macron, who he added "expressed pure friendship toward me that I will never forget".

Hariri had blamed Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group and Iran for his resignation, saying he got information about an assassination plot against him. His father, the late prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, was killed in a truck bombing in Beirut in 2005 and the case is still under investigation.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, two major rivals in the Middle East region, have been trading barbs following Hariri's sudden resignation and Saudi Arabia's interception of a ballistic missile fired at a Riyadh airport by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, both on Nov 4.

France is seeking to mediate in a political impasse as a result of Hariri's resignation.

Macron invited Hariri and his family to France after speaking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Lebanese prime minister, his office said in a statement on Wednesday.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned that the Saudi Arabia-Lebanon crisis could lead to "devastating consequences" for the Middle East.

"What we want is for peace to be preserved in Lebanon. It is essential that no new conflict erupts in the region," he said.


Lebanon's PM aims to be back for Independence Day

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