Hariri makes second trip to Saudi Arabia since 'forced' resignation

Hariri makes second trip to Saudi Arabia since 'forced' resignation
Lebanon's prime minister visits Riyadh amid renewed speculation that he had been held captive in the Saudi capital last year.
2 min read
Hariri had previously resigned as PM while on a visit to Riyadh in November [Getty]

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri landed in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for the second time since his shock resignation from Riyadh last year. 

"Hariri headed to Saudi Arabia for a visit expected to last a few days," his office said in a statement late on Tuesday.

On November 4, Hariri said he would step down and cited the Lebanese Hizballah's influence as the factor, prompting rumours Riyadh orchestrated the resignation. 

After French mediation, however, Hariri rescinded his resignation the following month and was named premier for a third term this month after Lebanon's first parliamentary polls in nine years.

Hariri began consultations to form a coalition government after his Future Movement lost a third of its seats on May 6. 

Hariri has been prime minister since December 2016 and served his first term from 2009 to 2011. Saudi Arabia has long been a key ally of Hariri, while Riyadh's arch-rival Iran backs Hizballah.

Saudi Arabia has dimissed claims by France's Emmanuel Macron that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri was detained in Riyadh for several weeks.

On Tuesday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry reiterated its denial, saying Macron's claim on Monday that Hariri was detained were "not true".

"His Excellency French President Macron had said in an interview with France's BFM TV that Lebanese PM Saad Hariri was detained in Saudi Arabia. This is not true," the ministry said on Twitter.

"The lack of stability in Lebanon and the region has been caused by Iran and its proxies, including the terrorist Hizballah, the militia involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the killing of French nationals in Lebanon," the statement added.

But analysts have pointed out that Hariri's last-minute trip to Riyadh comes a day after Macron said the Lebanese prime minister was held against his will.

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