Lebanon Says Saudi Arabia Holding Hariri Hostage

Lebanon Says Saudi Arabia Holding Hariri HostageLebanon Says Saudi Arabia Holding Hariri Hostage

Lebanon’s president on Wednesday accused Saudi Arabia of holding hostage prime minister Saad al-Hariri along with his family —the first time he has explicitly said he was being held— and called this an act of aggression.

“We will not accept him remaining a hostage whose reason for detention we do not know,” President Michel Aoun said in a statement, Reuters reported.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the head of Aoun’s political party, said the situation was “not normal” but that Beirut wanted “good relations” with Riyadh.

Hariri’s abrupt resignation as premier in a statement televised from the Saudi capital Riyadh on Nov. 4 thrust Lebanon to the front of a Middle East contest for power between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri’s resignation until he returns to Lebanon to formally submit it and explain his reasons, which Hariri has said he will do in the coming days. Top Lebanese officials and senior politicians close to Hariri told Reuters last week that Saudi Arabia was holding him and had coerced him into quitting.

Hariri has denied being kept in custody by Saudi Arabia and pledged on Wednesday to return soon. Riyadh denies detaining him or forcing him to resign.

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