Lebanon Prime Minister heading home

  • 19/11/2017
Saad al-Hariri
Saad al-Hariri. Photo credit: Reuters

Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanon's Prime Minister this month while in Saudi Arabia, says he will clarify his position when he returns to Beirut next week.

Hariri's resignation on November 4 threw Lebanon into political crisis and put it centre stage in the Middle East's overarching rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and its allies and a bloc led by Shi'ite Iran.

"With regard to the political situation in Lebanon, I will go to Beirut in the coming days, I will participate in the independence celebrations, and it is there that I will make known my position on these subjects after meeting President [Michel] Aoun," Mr Hariri said on Saturday after holding talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Mr Hariri declined to take questions, but is set to return to Beirut by Wednesday when Lebanon celebrates its independence day. He thanked Mr Macron, who has been mediating as part of French efforts to try to ease tensions across the region, for his help.

Mr Macron had leveraged France's close relations with both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to secure a deal that saw Hariri travel to Paris and open the door to a resolution of the crisis.

Mr Hariri, who arrived at his residence in Paris in the early hours of the morning, told Aoun in a phone call from Paris that he would be in Lebanon on Wednesday for the celebrations, the Lebanese president said on Twitter.

"Lebanon is being shaken so it's important Hariri comes to Paris for us to work with him on the best way out of the crisis," said a senior French diplomat.

"We're trying to create the conditions for a de-escalation in the region. We want to avoid a proliferation of crises that could get out of control."

Mr Hariri's abrupt resignation and continued stay in Saudi Arabia has caused fears for Lebanon's stability. His visit to France with his family is seen as part of a possible way out of the crisis.

Okab Saqr, a member of parliament for Mr Hariri's Future Movement, said after Mr Hariri's visit to France he would have "a small Arab tour" before travelling to Beirut.