European Union says Hariri must return to Lebanon, warns against Saudi interference

European Union says Hariri must return to Lebanon, warns against Saudi interference

He underscored that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation is an internal issue of Lebanon, and expressed the hope that Hariri would return to his country, security and stability would be restored in the Arab state and problems would be resolved as soon as possible.

His father, a long-serving former prime minister, was killed by a bomb in 2005.

The race turned into a political rally, with numerous runners calling for the return of Hariri, who has not publicly spoken since unexpectedly announcing his resignation.

The Lebanon president sought to smooth his inquiries with soft language, including reminding Riyadh of a "deep brotherly and friendly relations" between the two countries.

He said Lebanon was at risk of Arab economic sanctions because of what he described as interventions in Yemen and Bahrain by the powerful, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is part of the coalition government Hariri has led.

In a live interview shown on his Future TV, Hariri said he had resigned to protect Lebanon from imminent danger, although he didn't specify who was threatening the country.

"The obscurity surrounding the condition of PM Saad Hariri since his resignation a week ago means that all positions and actions declared by him or attributed to him do not reflect the truth", President Aoun added.

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Hariri said he was a free man.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that Hariri was "detained in Saudi Arabia" and "banned from returning to Lebanon". Once he returns, Aoun tweeted, "we will listen to him about all circumstances, topics and concerns that need addressing".

Hariri's office said he met several diplomats in Riyadh on Monday including the British and German ambassadors.

Saudi Arabia has stepped up its rhetoric against Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, accusing both of supporting Shiite rebels in Yemen known as Houthis. When asked about reports that he is not communicative and doesn't use his phone much, he said: "I am in a reflective state", adding that he didn't want any distractions amid a very busy schedule.

Hariri said he "can't be the only one making concessions while the others do whatever they want".

Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, head of the Maronite church, Lebanon's largest Christian community, was heading to Saudi Arabia on November 13 and was expected to meet with Hariri, the Associated Press reported.

"The Lebanese people have been waiting for him (Hariri) to return because the situation has come to a stop and the Lebanese people have been unsettled", el-Rai said.

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