Lebanese president accuses Saudi Arabia of detaining PM

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Lebanon's president said on Thursday he hoped the crisis over Saad al-Hariri's resignation as prime minister would soon end, with Hariri planning to leave Saudi Arabia for France this weekend.

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said Hariri and his family will arrive on Saturday in France, "where he will rest for few days" before returning to Beirut to make "a decision regarding the resignation".

Speculation has swirled around the fate of Hariri, who is a dual Saudi citizen.

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

Jubeir is the highest ranking Saudi official to comment on the situation. The prime minister has not returned to Lebanon since. Aoun's statement was carried by the state-run National News Agency. His resignation was not accepted by President Michael Aoun, leaving his government and the nation awaiting his return.

Meanwhile, the Elysee Palace announced on Wednesday that President Emmanuel Macron had made two contacts with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri and that the French president had invited the resigned Lebanese premier and his family to visit France.

Asked about the date of the visit for talks, Le Drian replied: "Mr. Hariri's schedule is a matter for Mr. Hariri".

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Iranian website Amadnews published a report titled "what happened during the meeting between Velayati and Hariri" last week, revealing that the Supreme Leader of Iran advisor Ali Akbar Velayati threatened Hariri's assassination in order to pressure him to comply with Iranian demands regarding Hezbollah.

Macron has stressed that Hariri should be able to return to Lebanon to confirm or withdraw his resignation in person.

Since Hariri announced his resignation, Saudi Arabia hasaccused Lebanon of declaring war on it, citing Hezbollah's role fighting in other Arab countries. Hezbollah has said Saudi Arabia forced Hariri to resign in order to bring down his coalition government, which includes the group.

Long-standing arch-rivals, Riyadh and Tehran are waging a contest for power on several fronts across the region, notably in Yemen and Lebanon.

"We are anxious about its stability, we are anxious about its integrity", Le Drian said.

"I'm thinking specifically about Iran's ballistic programme", Le Drian added.

That thrust Lebanon into both a domestic political crisis and the Middle East's overarching rivalry that pits Saudi Arabia and its allies against a bloc led by Iran.

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