Lebanon: Hariri travels to Riyadh in wake of Macron’s claims of his abduction

Prime Minister Saad Hariri flew to Riyadh a day after French President Emmanuel Macron indicated that he played a critical role for his release after he was allegedly kept hostage in November.

The Tuesday trip is the second by the Sunni Lebanese political figure since November. He had visited Riyadh early February.

In November, Hariri tendered his resignation in address on a Saudi television. He spent nearly two weeks in the Saudi capital leading politicians in Lebanon and in the west to believe that he was abducted.

The re-appointed Prime Minister dismissed the abduction reports after he came back home following a mediation by French President Emmanuel Macron. He rescinded his resignation.

Monday the French leader confirmed Hariri was indeed held and that Paris played a crucial role in defusing the political crisis that ensued his resignation.

“I remind you that a Prime Minister was held in Saudi Arabia for several weeks,” he said in an interview with broadcaster BFM TV.

Riyadh swiftly brushed off Macron’s comments, accused Iran and its Lebanon proxy Hezbollah for tilting the region towards instability.

“All the evidence confirms that what is pulling Lebanon and the region towards instability is Iran and its tools like the Hezbollah terrorist militia,” Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.

Hariri has been tasked by President Michel Aoun to name a new cabinet following early May elections. The son of former Premier Rafik lost the elections dominated by Hezbollah and its allies. He retained the position thanks to the country’s power sharing agreement. Per the agreement, the Prime Minister position goes to a Sunni, the position of President to Christians and the Shia hold the position of Parliament Speaker.

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