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1ST LEAD Lebanese president demands Saudis clarify why premier not yet home By Fadia Azar, dpa

Europe
11.11.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Beirut (dpa) - Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Saturday urged Saudi Arabia to clarify why Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has not returned home, a week after he announced his surprise resignation in the Gulf kingdom.

Aoun "called on Saudi Arabia to clarify the reasons that have prevented Hariri‘s return to Lebanon until now," a presidential statement said.

The call comes amid claims that Hariri is being held against his will in Saudi Arabia, a claim that Riyadh has denied.

"Lebanon does not accept that its prime minister is in a situation which contradicts international agreements and rules," Aoun added.

Hariri‘s surprise resignation has provoked international fears that Lebanon could be sucked into a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival, Iran.

Hariri, who also holds Saudi nationality, resigned last week in a televised address aired from Saudi Arabia, saying his life was in danger. 

A Sunni Muslim politician, Hariri accused Shiite Iran and its ally, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, of destabilizing his country and the Arab region.

Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, has not accepted Hariri‘s resignation, which has sent shock waves across politically fragile Lebanon.

French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the commitment of France - the former colonial power - "to support Lebanon, its unity and independence," Lebanon‘s official National News Agency (NNA) reported.

The remark came in a phone call by Macron to Aoun on Saturday.

Macron made a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, but did not meet Hariri. Several Lebanese officials have demanded Hariri‘s return home.

In a sign of escalating tensions with Beirut, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have advised their citizens against travelling to Lebanon.

Tourism is a main source of income for Lebanon, which has felt the economic fallout of the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

 

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