Saad Hariri returns to Lebanon
Saad Hariri returns to Lebanon Reuters

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to his home country late Tuesday after a nearly three-week absence following his surprise resignation, AFP reports.

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.

His plane touched down at Beirut international airport shortly before midnight, a statement from his office said.

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

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

A week ago, 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.

Hariri had promised he would return to Lebanon in time to mark its 47th Independence Day, which will be celebrated on Wednesday, and would clarify his position there.

Before arriving in Lebanon, he travelled to Cairo to see Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, whom he thanked for his support for Lebanon.

Hours later, Hariri flew from the Egyptian capital Cairo to Larnaca in Cyprus where he met late at night with President Nicos Anastasiades, the Cyprus government spokesman said.

After a brief visit he flew on to Beirut, where he is expected to take part in the independence day military parade early Wednesday and the customary reception at the presidential palace.

When he announced his resignation, Hariri accused Iran and its powerful Lebanese proxy Hezbollah of destabilizing his country.

President Michel Aoun has yet to accept Hariri's resignation, insisting that he present it in person once back in the Lebanese capital.

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