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Lebanese PM Hariri’s resignation on hold after talks with Aoun

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has temporarily put his resignation on hold following a request by President Michel Aoun for him to reconsider the decision.

“I presented my resignation to President Aoun today and he urged me to wait” for more dialogue and “I showed responsiveness to this hope,” Hariri said following his meeting with Aoun in Beirut on Wednesday.

Hariri also underlined his commitment to cooperation with President Aoun.

Earlier in the day, Hariri along with President Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri attended a military parade to mark the country’s Independence Day which brought an end to the French mandate over the country 74 years ago. After the parade, Hariri attended a meeting with Aoun and Berri.

This was Hariri’s first official appearance in Lebanon after his arrival from his controversial trip abroad.

Hariri arrived in Beirut early on Wednesday after a trip to Cyprus for a meeting with the country’s president, Nicos Anastasiades.

Earlier in the day, he made a brief visit to Egypt for talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Hariri is expected to meet with supporters at his residence in downtown Beirut at 1100 GMT upon the invitation of his Future Movement party.

Before his return to Lebanon, Hariri had promised to explain his views on the crisis in the country. Lebanon is rife with speculations about whether Hariri will finally step down or make new demands to stay in office in a coalition government.

Hariri announced his resignation in a televised statement on November 4, citing many reasons, including the security situation in Lebanon, for his sudden decision. He also said that he sensed a plot being hatched against his life.

A poster bearing a portrait of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut reads in Arabic “There is no hapiness without Saad” on November 21, 2017. (AFP photo)

Hariri accused Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement of meddling in Arab countries’ affairs; an allegation the two have repeatedly denied.

Senior sources close to Hariri and top Lebanese political and security officials said Saudi Arabia had coerced Hariri into stepping down and had put him under house arrest. Analysts say Hariri was targeted by Saudi Arabia as he refused to adopt a confrontational approach against Hezbollah, a powerful political party which is part of the Hariri-led coalition government.

After days of confusion about Hariri’s situation in Saudi Arabia, the Lebanese premier and his wife arrived in the French capital, Paris, on Saturday, but two of his children stayed behind in Riyadh.

In Paris, Hariri held talks with Macron, who had invited the Lebanese politician to the European country in an attempt to lower the tensions that erupted after his abrupt resignation.

Aoun, an ally of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, had stressed earlier that Hariri was living in “mysterious circumstances” in Riyadh, with his freedom being restricted in violation of international human rights regulations. Aoun also refused to accept Hariri’s resignation, saying he had to return to Lebanon first and convince the president that his resignation had been voluntarily offered.

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