Saudi Arabia's 'captive' Lebanese PM accepts invitation to visit France

Friday, 17 Nov, 2017

Mr Bassil said in an interview with the French daily Le Monde published on Wednesday: "The crisis will come to an end when Mr Hariri returns to Lebanon". French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to meet with Hariri and Saudi officials. Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who this week accused Saudi authorities of "detaining" Hariri and refused to accept his resignation from overseas, welcomed the news that the premier would visit Paris for talks with President Emmanuel Macron.

The CCTV report did not mention the global or regional situation, but the telephone call came after a large-scale corruption purge in Saudi Arabia and the sudden resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which sparked a new round of political crises in the region.

Naturally, there is speculation France is quietly offering Hariri a path into exile, a possibility President Macron explicitly denied to reporters when he insisted Hariri would only be staying for "a few days.".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile ratcheted up the rhetoric Wednesday against Saudi Arabia, his country's main regional rival, saying the kingdom pressured Hariri to resign in a "rare" intervention in another country's affairs. Aoun added that he will decide the next steps for the Lebanese government once Hariri is back in Lebanon.

'We can not continue in Lebanon in a situation where Iran interferes in all Arab countries, and that there's a political faction that interferes alongside it.

Hariri, a two-time premier, cited fears for his life when he resigned from his post, less than a year after his unity government was formed with Hezbollah.

The Prime Minster of Lebanon, who is allegedly being "detained" by Saudi Arabia, has accepted an invitation to meet the French President in Paris, and is expected to leave Riyad "within 48 hours".

Asked about the date of the visit, Le Drian replied: 'Mr.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Future Bloc MP Okab Sakr described Aoun's speech as "very dangerous", warning of attempts to "turn Hezbollah's dispute with Saudi Arabia to a dispute between Lebanon and the Kingdom".

"I don't know the source of these accusations".

In his first public statement, sent to The Associated Press, Bahaa Hariri accused Hezbollah of seeking "to take control of Lebanon".

Many believe Hariri's decision was dictated by the Kingdom amid its intensifying feud with Iran over influence in the region.

Al-Jubeir railed against Hezbollah, calling it a "first-class terrorist organization" that should lay down its arms and respect Lebanon's sovereignty.

The Elysee Palace's statement came shortly after it said French President Emmanuel Macron invited Hariri to France following a conversation between Macron, Hariri and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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