Hariri to travel to France this weekend

Lebanese Prime Minister who resigned to meet French President Macron in Paris after arriving from Saudi Arabia.

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Elad Benari,

Saad Hariri
Saad Hariri
Reuters

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri will travel to France this weekend from Saudi Arabia, Paris said Thursday, according to AFP.

The French presidency said Hariri would meet President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace after arriving on Saturday.

On Wednesday, Macron extended an invitation to Hariri and his family to come to France.

Hariri has been in Riyadh since giving a statement on television two weeks ago that he was stepping down because he feared for his life while also accusing Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of destabilizing Lebanon.

Speculation has swirled around Hariri's prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia since the announcement.

There were rumors that he was under de facto house arrest in Saudi Arabia, but Hariri brushed off those rumors in a television interview this week, saying he is "free" in Saudi Arabia and will return to Lebanon "very soon".

On Tuesday, Hariri said on Twitter that he would return to Lebanon in the next two days, in what was his first personal tweet since he announced his resignation.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has yet to officially accept Hariri's resignation, and has said he will not do so before meeting the premier in person in Lebanon. On Wednesday, Aoun said he considered Hariri to be detained until he returns to Lebanon.

On Thursday, Aoun welcomed the news about Hariri's trip to France.

"We hope that the crisis is over and Hariri's acceptance of the invitation to go to France is the start of a solution," he said on the official presidential Twitter account.

"If Mr. Hariri speaks from France, I would consider that he speaks freely, but his resignation must be presented in Lebanon, and he will have to remain there until the formation of the new government," Aoun said later in a statement issued by his office.








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