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Hariri dismisses ‘rumours’ about his detention

Hariri dismisses ‘rumours’ about his detention

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri dismissed reports about his alleged detention in Saudi Arabia as “rumours”, hours before he is expected to leave the kingdom to France two weeks after his surprise resignation.

The office of French Pre­sident Emmanuel Macron said Hariri is expected in Paris’ presidential palace by midday Saturday.

Hariri said in a tweet that he has stayed in Saudi Arabia to consult about the future of Lebanon and its relations with the region.

“All stories spreading about my sojourn and departure or that deal with the circumstances of my family are merely rumours,” he added.

Hariri’s televised Nov 4 resignation from Riyadh stunned the Lebanese, many of whom saw it as a sign that the kingdom the prime minister’s chief ally had decided to drag tiny Lebanon into the kingdom’s feud with the region’s other powerhouse, Iran.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Friday that there will be no stability in Lebanon unless the militant group Hezbollah disarms.

“This is what we hope,” Adel al-Jubeir said at a press conference in Madrid with his Spanish counterpart.

It was the second day in a row that the Saudi minister railed against Hezbollah. On Thursday, he called the group a “first-class terrorist organisation” that should lay down its arms and respect Lebanon’s sovereignty. Saudi Arabia has already asked its nationals to leave Lebanon.

Hariri is expected in France this weekend following a French invitation, which appears aimed to end speculation about him being held against his will.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2017

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