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Lebanon President Upbeat on Hariri’s Comments

Lebanon President Upbeat on Hariri’s CommentsLebanon President Upbeat on Hariri’s Comments

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday he was pleased by Saad al-Hariri’s comment that he would return to Lebanon soon to discuss his resignation as prime minister, presidential palace sources said.

In separate remarks relayed by visitors to him, Aoun gave a positive assessment of comments Hariri made in an interview on Sunday, his first since his shock decision to quit delivered from Riyadh on Nov. 4, Reuters reported.

“President Aoun expressed his pleasure at Hariri’s announcement of his return to Lebanon soon,” a source said. “Rescinding his resignation is one of his options”, Aoun was quoted as saying of Hariri.

Hariri’s resignation has pitched Lebanon into a deep political crisis and shaken confidence in its heavily indebted state.

The move —which has still to be accepted by Aoun— thrust Lebanon back into the forefront of the regional tussle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi-allied Hariri said in the interview he would return to Lebanon within days, and he held out the possibility he could rescind his resignation if Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen.

Hezbollah is part of the coalition government led by Hariri, who resigned saying that he feared assassination. His father Rafic Hariri, who was also a prime minister, was assassinated in 2005.

Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe Saudi Arabia coerced him into quitting and has put him under effective house arrest since he flew to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 3.

Saudi Arabia denies this, and Hariri said during his interview on Sunday that he was a free man.

Prior to Hariri’s interview, Aoun had also said that the restrictions on his freedom threw doubt on anything Hariri had said or would say, and that his statements could not be considered a statement of free will.

However on Monday, Aoun said that Hariri was “leaving all doors open including rescinding his resignation”, according to the visitors, who declined to be identified because they were discussing closed-door conversations with Aoun.

Aoun said Hariri’s remarks also showed that the political deal underpinning Lebanon’s coalition government still stands, the visitors said.

 

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