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Lebanon's Hariri to fly to France in coming days, Elysee Palace says

17 November 2017, 12:33 | Sherry Padilla

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"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. His resignation was not accepted by President Michael Aoun, leaving his government and the nation awaiting his return.

The Future Bloc MP went on to say that Hariri would for sure return to Lebanon, "but [Hezbollah] should also return and stop its interference in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and other countries". He accused Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of seeking to "take control of Lebanon".

The resignation of the Saudi-allied Hariri's and its aftermath have put Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Shi'ite-led Iran and its regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.

Hariri said on Sunday he would return to Lebanon "within days" to resolve issues with the militant group Hezbollah, his rivals in a coalition government formed previous year.

Rafik Al-Hariri, initially a businessman, was the Prime Minister of Lebanon between 1992 and 1998, and again since 2000 until his resignation in 2004.

France, Lebanon's onetime colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate in the crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

An official in the French president's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be named publicly, said Hariri is expected to travel to France in the coming days with his family. According to the New York Times, Nasrallah said, "We, Hezbollah, did not wish for this".

Aoun is an ally of Hezbollah but had been close to Hariri before the crisis.

Saudi Arabia is locked in a feud with Iran over regional influence; both countries support different groups in Lebanon.

In parallel, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's visit to Riyadh and his stances were welcomed by Lebanese political parties, except for Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, whose member, Mario Aoun, described Rahi's recent positions as "politically inconvenient in the circumstances we are living today". He said on Thursday on Twitter he hoped "the crisis is over" and the France visit would open the door to a solution.

Hariri in an interview on Sunday had vowed to return to Lebanon in a matter of days.

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.

The source was confirming earlier comments made by Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh.

It was not immediately clear if Bassil would attend the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo.

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