Lebanese president accuses Saudi Arabia of detaining PM

Lebanese president accuses Saudi Arabia of detaining PM

Lebanese President Michel Aoun refused to accept Hariri's resignation unless he tendered it in person in Lebanon.

Jubeir is the highest ranking Saudi official to comment on the situation.

Aoun has previously said he will not accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to Beirut to tender it and explain his reasons.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil said in Paris that Lebanon wants to resolve Hariri's "ambiguous" condition with Saudi Arabia in a "brotherly" fashion.

Hariri resigned as Lebanon's prime minister 11 days ago in a video broadcast from Saudi Arabia.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Future Bloc MP Okab Sakr described Aoun's speech as "very dangerous", warning of attempts to "turn Hezbollah's dispute with Saudi Arabia to a dispute between Lebanon and the Kingdom". Riyadh is expected to discuss Iran's rising influence in the region, as well as the Lebanon crisis.

"We need to have leaders who are free to express themselves", said Macron. "But they are rejected and are baseless and untrue", al-Jubeir said.

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. Hezbollah had increased inside and outside of Lebanon. Aoun, a Christian, is a political ally of Hezbollah, the heavily armed Shi'ite Muslim movement that is backed by Iran. He added that Hariri's resignation had been expected in light of Hezbollah's continuous militant operations outside the country's borders.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile ratcheted up the rhetoric against Saudi Arabia, his country's main regional rival, saying the kingdom pressured Hariri to resign in a "rare" intervention in another nation's affairs.

"After talks with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron] invited Saad Hariri and his family to France", the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

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.

The announcement that Hariri had accepted an invitation to travel to France and meet President Emmanuel Macron came from French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday during a visit to Riyadh.

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