Iran, Lebanon's Hariri differ on key meeting

Lebanese army chief General Joseph Aoun arrives at an operational command post in the eastern town of Ras Baalbek

AFP 2017 STRINGERLebanese Army Has'Full Control Over Security Situation Amid Hariri's Resignation

The return of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia is essential for Lebanon's stability, the head of the country's Maronite Catholic community said on Monday.

In his first tweet in more than a week, Hariri told his followers that he is OK, and that he would be returning without his family, who will stay "in their home" in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz met Tuesday with Lebanon's Christian Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai in the capital Riyadh. He denied he was being held against his will in the kingdom.

The comments came in Hariri's first TV interview since announcing his resignation.

Saad Hariri quit during a TV statement from Saudi Arabia, prompting some observers to suggest it was done on Riyadh's orders and there have been claims he is under de facto house arrest in the oil-rich kingdom.

In his resignation speech in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia on November 4, Hariri said he feared assassination and accused Iran along with Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

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A political crisis has gripped Lebanon since Hariri read his televised resignation from Saudi Arabia in which he accused Iran of meddling in Lebanon in a vicious tirade that was uncharacteristic of the usually soft-spoken premier.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to Beirut to formally submit it. Analysts say that when Hariri does so, members of parliament will nominate him to serve as prime minister once again, and Aoun will ask him to form a new government. Hariri is a political ally of Riyadh and holds Saudi nationality. Hezbollah and the Houthis deny that the Lebanese group is carrying out anti-Saudi activities in Yemen.

He also repeatedly said he was ready to die for Lebanon - his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was killed by a auto bomb in Beirut in 2005 - but added that he didn't want his children to go through that kind of ordeal.

Saudi al-Arabiya television quoted him as saying he supported the reasons for Hariri's resignation.

Echoing Saudi demands, MPs from Hariri's Future Movement called for a United Nations resolution from 2006 that demanded all militias in Lebanon disarm to be respected.

Hezbollah's Lebanese opponents have long demanded it disarm.

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