Macron offers former Lebanon PM Hariri residency in France

GETTYEmmanuel Macron was forced to deny he had offered Saad al Hariri ‘political exile

GETTYEmmanuel Macron was forced to deny he had offered Saad al Hariri ‘political exile

Senior Iranian politician Ali Akbar Velayati said on Tuesday that Saad Hariri, who resigned as Lebanon's prime minister on November 4, called for a mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia whose relations have nosedived in recent years.

The development came as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in Riyadh where he met Prince Mohammed late Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia has accused Hezbollah of aiding Iran-allied rebels in Yemen, who fired a ballistic missile that was intercepted outside the Saudi capital earlier this month. Hariri's family has longtime connections to France.

Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been intensifying its confrontation with Shiite power Iran.

It was the first time Michel Aoun described Prime Minister Saad Hariri as a detainee of the kingdom, after Hariri announced his resignation under mysterious circumstances from Riyadh 12 days ago. Hariri supported the group and provided it with political cover while it supported Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his forces in the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, but because Hariri has stepped down, the group now fears that they will face strict sanctions from the US government. Hezbollah has said Saudi Arabia forced Hariri to resign in order to bring down his coalition government, which includes the group.

GETTYMr Macron also spoke with Mohammed bin Salman
GETTYMr Macron also spoke with Mohammed bin Salman

Bahaa Hariri, right, and Saad Hariri visit the scene on February 19, 2005, where their father Rafik, the prime minister, was assassinated in Beirut.

The Maronite patriarch's visit "stresses the kingdom's approach for peaceful coexistence, closeness and openness for all sections of Arabic people", Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said on Twitter.

European nations and the USA have not pointed the finger at Saudi authorities directly, but have expressed public concern about Hariri's absence and warned against attempts to interfere in Lebanon's fragile democracy. Political analysts have said that any military clash in Lebanon would be a "proxy war" between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"Only a pernicious outside actor, such as Iran and its surrogate, Hezbollah, can upset the balance as this group now seeks to take control of Lebanon", Bahaa Haririr's statement read in part.

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