Resigned PM says he is 'free', will return to Lebanon

Cheryl Sanders
November 14, 2017

Iran said on Monday that it does not interfere in Lebanon and that comments on Sunday by Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese prime minister nine days ago, gave hope he would soon return to his country, state TV reported.

Writing on Twitter, Hariri urged Lebanese to remain calm, adding that his family would "stay in its country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", he said.

"Hariri is returning as fast as possible and I support the reasons for his resignation", Rai was quoted as saying by Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.

In his resignation speech, Hariri cited fear of an assassination plot backed by Iran, and sternly criticized the Islamic Republic and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah for fueling conflict throughout the Middle East.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that Hariri was "detained in Saudi Arabia" and "banned from returning to Lebanon".

Top Lebanese government officials and senior politicians close to Hariri believe Saudi Arabia coerced him into quitting and has been holding him against his will ever since, though Hariri and Riyadh have denied this. His wife and children have been living in Saudi Arabia for years.

Maronites number about 900,000 in Lebanon, around a quarter of the population.

Flanked by Catholic clerics wearing vestments and gold crosses, Rai discussed religious tolerance and combating extremism with the king and his son, the Saudi state news agency said.

In a statement from his office, Aoun said "Hariri's freedom has been restricted and conditions have been imposed regarding his residence and the contacts he may have, even with members of his family".

Rai is the second Christian patriarch to visit the country, after another such trip in 1975.

Other reports by iNewsToday