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Lebanon's Hariri accepts invite to come to France - diplomat

Lebanon's Hariri accepts invite to come to France - diplomat

Hariri announced his resignation on November 4 while he was in Saudi Arabia, saying that he feared for his life and well being because of Iranian influence in the country's political system. Hariri's father, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a auto bomb explosion in 2005, which officials believe was planted by Hezbollah agents, and Hariri said he feared the same fate.

That thrust Lebanon into both a domestic political crisis and the Middle East's overarching rivalry that pits Saudi Arabia and its allies against a bloc led by Iran. Hariri is expected then to flying home to Beirut to officially submit his resignation. The comments were his first in public since he quit from Riyadh on November 4. He said on Wednesday he would return soon. "Iran does not interfere in Lebanon's affairs", Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state TV.

Aoun said he considered Hariri to have been detained in Saudi Arabia, and suffering from limited mobility in the place where he is being held.

El-Rai and Saudi Charge d'Affaires Walid al-Bukhari said the kingdom is not likely to deport Lebanese citizens as punishment for the participation of the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanese politics. He said Arab mediation to resolve the crisis had failed.

The resignation of Saudi-aligned Hariri was seen as engineered by Riyadh and raised concerns that it would drag Lebanon, with its delicate sectarian-based political system, into the battle for regional supremacy.




Aoun said Saudi Arabia had committed a "hostile act against Lebanon", and that he had called the ambassadors of U.N. Security Council nations about the matter.

"We need to have leaders who are free to express themselves", said Macron.

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

But Bassil, who is on a European tour seeking support for his country amid the crisis, said that Lebanon also has the option of resorting to worldwide law, without elaborating.

Hariri's resignation came against the backdrop of mounting tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, which back opposing sides in power struggles in hotspots such as Syria and Yemen. After meeting Le Drian, Jubeir described Hezbollah as an arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and said it must disarm for Lebanon to be stable.

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