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Lebanese prime minister invited to France amid resignation crisis

Lebanese prime minister invited to France amid resignation crisis

Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday accused Saudi Arabia of holding hostage Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanon's prime minister on November 4 in a televised statement broadcast from Riyadh, where he had traveled on November 3.

Because Hariri delivered his speech in Saudi Arabia, Lebanese civilians believe that the Saudi government has forced Hariri to resign against his own will and now have him under house arrest.

France's foreign minister is expected in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to meet with Hariri and Saudi officials.

In his sharply worded resignation from Saudi Arabia, Hariri, 47, accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of destabilising his country and the broader region.

He cited a fear of assassination and Hezbollah's "sowing strife" in the Arab world as his reasons for stepping down. He said Hariri needed to return to Lebanon to prove he was free.

On a note released by a social network, Aoun said that the government is willing to discuss the reasons for the resignation of Hariri under the condition of not infringing upon Lebanese sovereignty.

The case comes during a diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

"We can not continue while Iran and a political party are interfering", Hariri said, in his first public comments since his resignation.

However, Riyadh's Western allies have struck a tone different from that of Saudi Arabia, appearing to throw their weight behind both Hariri and the Lebanese state, whose army is a major recipient of US aid.

On Twitter, Hariri said he was well but that his family was staying in Saudi Arabia.

Aoun said Saudi Arabia had committed a "hostile act against Lebanon", and that he had called the ambassadors of UN Security Council nations about the matter.

"I want to repeat: I am fine and will return to my beloved Lebanon as I promised you, you will see", Hariri tweeted minutes after Aoun issued his statement. He rarely makes comments to the media.

In April 2005, two months after their father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a Beirut bombing, the family announced that Saad would assume his father's political mantle, skipping over his brother, Bahaa, who is several years his senior.

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