Sunday 18 August 2019

Saad Hariri says he will return to Lebanon 'very soon'

Saad Hariri gives a live TV interview in Riyadh (Future TV via AP)
Saad Hariri gives a live TV interview in Riyadh (Future TV via AP) Newsdesk Newsdesk

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said he will return to his country "very soon", in his first televised interview since he resigned in Saudi Arabia last week.

Mr Hariri was speaking on Sunday in a live interview to his station Future TV, after pressure from Lebanese officials who said his resignation was not accepted because it was declared in Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon's president said Mr Hariri was being held against his will in Saudi Arabia.

"I am free," Mr Hariri told the TV interviewer.

Saad Hariri on a poster in Beirut (AP/Hassan Ammar)
Saad Hariri on a poster in Beirut (AP/Hassan Ammar)

He said he decided to resign to save the country from imminent danger, but did not elaborate.

Mr Hariri said he would return to Lebanon "very soon," ''in days".

A dual Lebanese-Saudi national and an ally of Riyadh, Mr Hariri unexpectedly announced his resignation on November 4 in a pre-recorded message broadcast on Saudi TV, criticising Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, and saying he feared for his safety.

His father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri, was killed by a car bomb in Beirut in 2005. His family lives in Riyadh.

Mr Hariri said his resignation was his decision, dismissing reports he was forced to quit a unity government with his rival Hezbollah militant group.

During the interview Mr Hariri held back tears. He said his resignation was designed to "cause a positive shock" in the country, warning against Iranian interference that was, he said, ruining relations with other Arab countries.

Mr Hariri said he "can't be the only one making concessions while the others do whatever they want".

PA Media

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