Lebanese PM makes first visit to Saudi Arabia post-resignation crisis

Riyadh - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday, making his first visit to the kingdom since a November political crisis that saw him announce his resignation from Riyadh before revoking it weeks later.

Hariri's resignation announcement on November 4 stunned his compatriots in Lebanon, where President Michel Aoun accused Saudi Arabia of "detaining" Hariri.
Riyadh denied the accusation, but Hariri's resignation was widely seen as reflecting the desire of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed to put pressure on regional rival Iran and its allies.
Hariri, an ally of Saudi Arabia, is to meet with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed during his current two-day visit, which comes ahead of Lebanon's May 6 legislative elections.
Hariri was received at the Riyadh airport by Saudi diplomat Nizar al-Aloula, who earlier this week visited Beirut where he met with Lebanon's leaders, including Hariri, Lebanese media reported.
In his televised resignation speech in November, Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, lashed out at the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement and its ally Iran, accusing them of destabilizing Lebanon and other Arab countries. He withdrew the resignation after returning to Lebanon.
In an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed said that Hariri is in a "better position today" in Lebanon relative to Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are backing opposite sides in Yemen and Syria.

Wednesday, February 28th 2018

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