Lebanon's president: Saudi Arabia is detaining PM


Lebanon's premier Saad Hariri will travel to France "in the coming days", a French presidential source said Wednesday, after Beirut accused Saudi Arabia of detaining him following his shock resignation.

"After speaking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the president has invited Saad al-Hariri and his family to France", the Elysée said in a statement.

"Nothing justifies the failure of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to return for 12 days, therefore we consider him to be held and detained, contrary to the Vienna Convention", Aoun said in a tweet on the official Lebanese presidency account.

There were rumours that Hariri, who is a Saudi citizen and grew up in the kingdom, had been detained along with dozens of Saudis in what Riyadh says is an anti-corruption campaign.

In a follow-up phone call from Monaco with the AP Wednesday, Bahaa Hariri declined to comment further.

Hariri is a Saudi ally who holds dual citizenship.

This was his strongest-worded statement yet on the situation around the Lebanese prime minister, who is said to be stuck in Riyadh. "It is trying to sow the seeds of discord among various political factions here and pit them against each other", the Hezbollah leader said, as quoted by Press TV.

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Saudi Arabia has always been considered Hariri's main external supporter.

Velayati also praised relations between Iran and Lebanon.

In a television interview on Sunday, Hariri said he would return to his country within days and held out the possibility he could rescind his resignation if Iran-backed Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen.

"No decision can be made on a resignation from overseas", Aoun added.

"I want to reiterate that I am very, very well and I will return if God wills it to the beloved Lebanon just as I promised".

But Bassil, who is on a European tour seeking support for his country amid the crisis, said that Lebanon also has the option of resorting to worldwide law, without elaborating.

Hariri's resignation while in Saudi Arabia pitched Lebanon into political crisis. French President Emmanuel Macron paid a surprise visit to the kingdom last week.