Lebanon's 'detained' premier to travel to France

Lebanon's 'detained' premier to travel to France

Lebanon's president accused Saudi Arabia on Wednesday of detaining his country's prime minister, calling it an act of "aggression" and asking U.N. Security Council nations and European governments to intervene.

The resignation of the Saudi-allied Hariri's and its aftermath have put Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Shi'ite-led Iran and its regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.

"After talks with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron] invited Saad Hariri and his family to France", the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

His visit to Saudi Arabia is the first ever by a Maronite patriarch.

Nothing justifies that he has not returned after 12 days.




Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri will fly to Paris "in the coming days", a spokeswoman for the French presidency said Wednesday, after days of speculation that he was being held against his will in Saudi Arabia. Hariri's father, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a vehicle bomb explosion in 2005, which officials believe was planted by Hezbollah agents, and Hariri said he feared the same fate.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah, has made the same accusation. 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 US government. He announced his unexpected resignation in a pre-recorded statement broadcast on Saudi TV on November 4, in which he lashed out at Hezbollah and said he feared for his safety.

Rouhani also accused Saudi Arabia, without naming the kingdom, of "begging" Israel to bomb Lebanon. "You will see", Hariri wrote, without elaborating. French President Emmanuel Macron paid a surprise visit to the kingdom last week.

Speaker Nabih Berri said that Hariri should consider rescinding his resignation upon his eventual return to Lebanon, according to a statement issued by Berri's press office.

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