Hariri says to return to Lebanon in next two days

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and his family will travel to France in coming days, a French presidential source said on Wednesday, after Emmanuel Macron invited him as part of efforts to defuse tensions in the Middle East.

Speaking on Wednesday, Aoun also said he will not accept Hariri's resignation until he presents it himself upon his arrival in Beirut.

Bahaa Hariri, right, and Saad Hariri visit the scene on February 19, 2005, where their father Rafik, the prime minister, was assassinated in Beirut.

"What happened wasn't a resignation - it was an attack on Lebanon's independence and dignity", he said Wednesday, adding that Hariri's absence represented "a violation of the worldwide declaration of human rights".

But Hariri's older brother, breaking his silence, says he supports his brother's decision to step down over the growing demands and actions of Hezbollah.

He said he was planning to return home to his "beloved" Lebanon.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil said in Paris that Lebanon wants to resolve Hariri's "ambiguous" condition with Saudi Arabia in a "brotherly" fashion. "You will see", Hariri wrote, without elaborating.

On Tuesday, he announced his return in two days, after a meeting in Riyadh with the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai.

"We can not continue while Iran and a political party are interfering", Hariri said, in his first public comments since his resignation. He has not been back to Lebanon since, fueling speculation that he was being held against his will.

Hariri, who also holds Saudi nationality, left on November 3 for Riyadh and a day later announced his resignation and since then he remains in the Kingdom, despite appeals from the entire Lebanese political class, including his Future Movement party.

Hariri declared his resignation during a visit to Riyadh, claiming Iran's interference in Arab countries' affair for his resignation. He has yet to return to Lebanon from Riyadh, which had always been considered his chief political patron.

"After talking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the president of the Republic has invited Saad Hariri and his family to France", the Elysee said in a brief statement. "It's also important that all Lebanese parties agree to respect civil peace".

  • Rogelio Becker