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Saad Hariri Skirts Lebanon to Visit Paris Instead

by Oui Thu Nov 16th, 2017 at 08:51:15 PM EST

Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri accepts Macron's invitation to France | DW |

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri will travel to France at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron, according to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"He will come to France and the prince has been informed," Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday in Riyadh, referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Asked about the date of the trip, Le Drian replied, "Mr. Hariri's schedule is a matter for Mr. Hariri." An official at the French president's office said Hariri was expected in the coming days.


Speaking alongside Le Drian, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Hariri could leave Saudi Arabia when he pleases.
"The resigned Lebanese prime minister is living in Saudi Arabia of his own free will. He is the one who decides on his return to Lebanon," he said.

No exile offered

Lebanese President Michael Aoun welcomed the announcement. He said on Thursday that he hoped Hariri's eventual return from France would end the country's ongoing political crisis.

"I am awaiting the return of Prime Minister Hariri from Paris for us to decide the next step with regards to the government," he said.

Speaking to journalists in Bonn where Macron was attending the COP23 climate summit, the French president had said on Wednesday that Hariri and his family had been invited to spend "a few days" in France but he was not offering Hariri political exile.

It was essential, Macron said, to dispel fears that Saudi Arabia had taken the Lebanese leader prisoner. "We need to have leaders who are free to express themselves," said Macron. "It's important that [Hariri] is able to advance the political process in his country in the coming days and weeks."  

Paris has offered exile to global leaders before with mixed results ...

Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 15 years exile (1979)
'A Darker Horizon': The Assassination of Shapour Bakhtiar (1991)

My recent diaries on Lebanon and PM Saad Hariri ...

Hariri II - the American Puppet
KSA: Convert to Sunni Wahhabism or Die
Hariri Caught In Sudairi Power Struggle - US Policy [Update]

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Especially added the France24 link ... headline has been updated!

Lebanon's Hariri set to arrive in France from Saudi Arabia

Macron's invitation to Hariri and his family is part of an attempt to preserve regional stability by leveraging France's trade relations with rival players in the region and historical ties to its former protectorate.

The French president has clarified that the invitation was not an offer of political exile, but merely an invitation made in "friendship" for Hariri to spend "a few days with his family" in France. The Elysée Palace said the invitation was made after Macron spoke by telephone with both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri.

In a Twitter posting in Arabic on Friday, Hariri sought to dispel what he called rumours about his stay in Saudi Arabia, noting that he was in the Gulf kingdom "for consultations about the future situation in Lebanon and its relations with its surroundings."

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by Oui on Fri Nov 17th, 2017 at 05:32:07 PM EST


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