Lebanese patriarch meets Saudi king, Hariri in Riyadh

Frederick Owens
November 15, 2017

Iran said on Monday that it does not interfere in Lebanon and that comments on Sunday by Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese prime minister on Saudi TV nine days ago, gave hope he would soon return to his country, state TV reported.

"What's at stake is Mr Hariri being able to return home freely to clarify his situation in line with the Lebanese constitution", Philippe told parliament, saying his resignation, announced in Saudi Arabia, had caused "a period of uncertainty".

El-Rai is head of the Maronite sect, Lebanon's largest Christian community and the Middle East's largest Catholic Church, which enjoys wide influence in the country.

The EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said Tuesday that European diplomats had "close contacts" with the resigned premier and also expected him to return home "in the coming days".

It will be the first time a cardinal officially visits Saudi Arabia and the first visit of an Eastern patriarch to the kingdom since Greek Orthodox Patriarch Elias IV of Antioch in 1975.

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Some Lebanese officials have said he should return with his family, so he could be free of any Saudi pressure.

The visit comes amid uproar over a surprise resignation announced by Hariri last week during a televised speech from Saudi Arabia.

"They [the Lebanese] will not rest until he returns so that life returns to normal".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hariri's resignation should serve as "a wake-up call to the global community to take action against the Iranian aggression that is trying to turn Syria into a second Lebanon".

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