Lebanon's Hariri suspends resignation

A day after returning to his home country, Lebanon's Prime Minister suspends surprise resignation, pending talks.

Elad Benari,

Saad Hariri
Saad Hariri
Reuters

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Wednesday he was suspending his surprise resignation, pending talks.

In a rousing address before large crowds of supporters gathered outside his Beirut home, he pledged he would stay in the country and protect its "stability", AFP reported.

Hariri stepped down from his post in a televised address on November 4 from Saudi Arabia and then remained in Riyadh, where he spent two weeks before making brief trips to Abu Dhabi, Paris and Cairo.

He finally returned to Beirut on Tuesday evening, ahead of celebrations of Lebanon’s Independence Day.

His resignation was seen as a ratcheting up of tensions in the long-running rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and raised fears that Lebanon would be paralyzed by regional tensions.

Hours after his arrival back in Beirut, Hariri met with President Michel Aoun, who had refused to accept the premier's resignation until he returned to Lebanon.

"I discussed my resignation with the president of the republic who asked me to wait before submitting it... and allow for more consultations," Hariri told reporters afterwards, according to AFP.

"I agreed to this request," said Hariri, who added he hoped his decision would "allow for a responsible dialogue in a serious manner... that would settle disputes."

In announcing his resignation, he had levelled harsh criticism at Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, saying they had taken over Lebanon and were destabilizing the region.

He also said he had been forced to leave Lebanon because of threats to his safety, invoking the 2005 assassination of his father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Speaking in the evening after meeting parliament speaker Nabih Berri, Hariri called on "everyone" to respect this "policy of distance", saying that would "improve our relations with our Arab brothers ".

There has been heavy international involvement in the search for a way out of the crisis, with France stepping in to invite Hariri to Paris after weeks of speculation that he was being detained in Riyadh.

Hariri, who holds Saudi citizenship and is closely allied with Riyadh, strongly denied he was being held in the kingdom, but nonetheless accepted the invitation and arrived in Paris on Saturday.

Before continuing to Beirut Tuesday, he stopped for talks in both Egypt and Cyprus, hinting at the various tracks under way to ease tension.




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