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Maronite cardinal hopes to meet Lebanese PM in Saudi Arabia

14 November 2017

Hariri was appointed prime minister late previous year.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Sunday he will return to his country "very soon" amid a political crisis that erupted when he announced his sudden resignation on November 4 in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack, saying the missiles bore "Iranian markings".

On Nov. 4, Hariri abruptly announced his resignation in a televised address delivered from Saudi Arabia.

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After two years of a devastating war, the Houthis still control much of Yemen's north while the south falls under the embattled President of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognized by the global community and who is supported by the Saudi-led coalition.

He spoke after pressure from Lebanese officials, who said his resignation was not accepted because it was declared in Saudi Arabia.

Many Lebanese have suspected Hariri was placed under house arrest as part of a Saudi plan to unravel a coalition government he had formed past year with the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah. He also said that he realized a plot being hatched against his life.

In the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, unknown assailants burned posters of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a sign of the rising tensions. Hezbollah and the Houthis deny that the Lebanese group is carrying out anti-Saudi activities in Yemen.

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The United States, France and Britain have all expressed strong support for Lebanon's stability and sovereignty. However, Saudi officials have reiterated that Hariri is free and not "under house arrest" as some reports stated earlier.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said "we are preoccupied by the situation in Lebanon".

In an interview with Lebanon's Future Television, the mouthpiece of his political party, Hariri denied the claims and promised to return to Lebanon "very soon". He pleaded with the interviewer to finish the questioning and said he was "tired". "Everyone may not agree with Hariri's politics, but he is our prime minister".

Asked why Hariri was wearing the same suit for three days, he said: "I said I'm not responsible for his closet". He has friends and supporters and interests and so forth, first and foremost among them the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, whom Saad Hariri said he look up as a father figures. "He is always welcome there and he will continue to be welcome there".

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Maronite cardinal hopes to meet Lebanese PM in Saudi Arabia