– Lebanon PM Saad Hariri ‘suspends’ resignation

November 22, 2017

A handout picture shows Lebanese President Michel Aoun (L) and Prime Minister Saad Hariri (R) meeting at the presidential palace in Baabda, outside Beirut (22 November 2017)Image copyright

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Michel Aoun met Saad Hariri at the presidential palace a day after the prime minister’s return

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has “temporarily suspended” his surprise resignation, which he announced during a visit to Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.

Mr Hariri said he had presented his resignation to President Michel Aoun, but that he was asked to “put it on hold ahead of further consultations”.

The two men held talks a day after Mr Hariri returned to the country.

Mr Aoun had insisted Mr Hariri submit his resignation in person, alleging it might have been made under duress.

Mr Hariri has denied speculation that Saudi Arabia forced him to resign and then detained him in an attempt to curb the influence of its regional rival Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, which is part of Lebanon’s national unity government.

“Today I presented my resignation to his excellency the president, and he asked me to temporarily suspend submitting it and to put it on hold ahead of further consultations on the reasons for it,” Mr Hariri said in a televised speech after Tuesday’s meeting at the Baabda presidential palace.

“I expressed my agreement to this request, in the hope that it will form a serious basis for a responsible dialogue,” he added.

Mr Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address on 4 November from Riyadh, in which he accused Iran of sowing “discord, devastation and destruction” in the region and said he sensed there was an assassination plot against him.

His father Rafik – himself a former Lebanese prime minister – was killed in a suicide bombing in Beirut in 2005.

Several members of Hezbollah are being tried in absentia at a UN-backed tribunal at The Hague in connection with the attack, though it denies any involvement.

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