LebanonSaudi Arabia

Puppet Lebanese PM visits Riyadh for 1st time since shock ‘resignation’


Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has traveled to Saudi Arabia for the first time since last November when he announced a surprise resignation live on television from Riyadh only to rescind it later upon arriving home.

Hariri’s media office said in a statement that the Lebanese premier had left for Riyadh late on Tuesday and was set to meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The visit is paid in response to an invitation handed to Hariri by Saudi envoy Nizar al-Aloula during a meeting in Beirut on Monday, according to the statement.

Aloula paid a two-day visit to Beirut, during which he held talks with Lebanese officials concerning Beirut-Riyadh relations and regional developments.

He was the first high-ranking Saudi official to visit Lebanon since Hariri’s mysterious resignation as Lebanon’s premier on Saudi soil.

“The Saudi envoy’s visit has injected a new lease of life in Lebanese-Saudi relations, signaling a further boost in these relations with all the positive impact this entails on Lebanon,” an unnamed official told The Daily Star.

Hariri stunned Lebanon and the world on November 4, 2017 by announcing his resignation in a live television broadcast from Saudi Arabia. He accused Iran and Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world, an allegation rejected by both sides.

Senior sources close to Hariri and top Lebanese officials said Riyadh had coerced the Lebanese premier into stepping down and put him under house arrest.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun stressed back then that the prime minister was being detained in Saudi Arabia against his will.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s Secretary General, also noted that Saudi authorities had clearly and openly declared a war on Lebanon by holding Prime Minister Hariri hostage and forcing him to quit.

A New York Times report later revealed that Hariri, upon arrival in Riyadh, had found himself manhandled by Saudi forces and forced to resign.

Hariri, however, managed to get out of the kingdom amid international pressure on Riyadh.

He rescinded his resignation after returning home. The prime minister has, himself, denied that he was mistreated during his stay in Riyadh.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month, Hariri lauded the Hezbollah resistance movement for doing its part to deescalate tensions and said Lebanon’s relationship with Iran has to be “the best relationship.”

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