After 2 Mysterious Weeks, Lebanese PM Now in France

Saad Hariri says it's a 'lie' he was being held captive in Saudi Arabia
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2017 10:17 AM CST
After 2 Mysterious Weeks, Lebanese PM Now in France
French President Emmanuel Macron greets Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The (potentially) former prime minister of Lebanon's mysterious two-week stay in Saudi Arabia has come to an end, as Saad Hariri arrived in France on Saturday morning and met with French President Emmanuel Macron, the New York Times reports. Hariri was in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4 when he suddenly and shockingly resigned as prime minister. Since then, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has refused to accept his resignation among widespread speculation Hariri was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will, according to the AP. Early Saturday, Hariri tweeted that it was a "lie" that Saudi Arabia was detaining him. However, speculation of Saudi leverage continues as Hariri was joined by his wife and eldest son in France while his younger children—attending school in Saudi Arabia—were notably absent.

Aoun says Hariri will return to Lebanon in time for its Independence Day holiday on Wednesday, and it's unclear if Hariri will go ahead with his resignation or take it back upon his return. Hariri told reporters in France that he will "declare my political stance" after meeting with Aoun. He has not publicly discussed what happened during his time in Saudi Arabia. Hariri's resignation and lengthy absence started a political crisis in Lebanon that goes beyond the organization of the government. There is speculation that Saudi Arabia forced him to resign as part of a power struggle with Iran, which Hariri denounced during his resignation, the BBC reports. There is fear of a looming war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which only increased Saturday when Saudi Arabia asked its citizens to leave Lebanon for the second time in two weeks. (More Saad al-Hariri stories.)

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