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Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri Meets Macron In Paris

By Richard Gonzales NPR

Updated on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 9:45 a.m., ET.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned his position earlier this month amid political tensions with Saudi Arabia, says he is returning to his country after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday.

Hariri told reporters he would clarify his political position upon returning to Lebanon for Independence Day celebrations, the Associated Press reported.

“As you know I have resigned and we will speak about this matter there (Lebanon),” Hariri said.

He also thanked Macron for the “positive political role” his country his playing in the Middle East. Macron has been working to reduce tensions between groups in Lebanon backed by Saudi Arabia and opposing groups backed by Iran.

Hariri flew to Paris after a two-week stay in Saudi Arabia following his resignation, prompting speculation that he was being detained in Riyadh.

Hariri’s surprise resignation came on Nov. 4 while visiting Riyadh. He is a dual national of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

The news of Hariri’s departure was reported by the Associated Press, citing a Saudi embassy tweet.

“‘Mr Hariri left Riyadh airport on his private jet with his wife and is headed for Le Bourget airport …’ [Lebanon’s] Future TV announced early on Saturday,” according to the BBC.

In his own tweet, Hariri dismissed claim that he was being detained by the Saudi government as a “rumor” and a “lie.”

“To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie. I am on the way to the airport Mr. Sigmar Gabriel,” he tweeted.

Sigmar Gabriel is the German Foreign Minister. He expressed his concern on Thursday about instability and bloodshed in Lebanon, without mentioning Saudi Arabia directly.

As the AP describes it:

“The surprise resignation announcement by Hariri on Nov. 4 plunged his country into turmoil and stunned the Lebanese, many of whom saw it as a sign the Sunni kingdom – the prime minister’s chief ally – had decided to drag tiny Lebanon into its feud with the region’s other powerhouse, the predominantly Shiite Iran.”

Lebanese President Michel Aoun also accused Saudi Arabia of detaining Hariri.

The Saudi government signaled its displeasure with Germany by recalling its ambassador to Berlin.

Despite Hariri’s resignation, French President Emmanuel Macron said he will enjoy “the honors due a prime minister” and indicated that the Lebanese diplomat might stay in France for weeks.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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