Al-Hariri set to leave Saudi Arabia for France

Lebanon’s Saad al-Hariri was on Friday (November 17th) preparing to leave Saudi Arabia for France, a move aimed at defusing political turmoil sparked by his shock resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister in Riyadh, AFP reported.

Al-Hariri is due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday.

The announcement of the visit came after al-Hariri met French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh Thursday, with Paris hoping to ease a crisis that has driven up tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who had accused Saudi authorities of "detaining" al-Hariri and refused to accept his resignation from abroad, welcomed the news about the trip to Paris.

"We hope that the crisis is over and al-Hariri's acceptance of the invitation to go to France is the start of a solution," he said Thursday on the official presidential Twitter account.

"If Mr. al-Hariri speaks from France, I would consider that he speaks freely, but his resignation must be presented in Lebanon, and he will have to remain there until the formation of the new government," Aoun said later in a statement.

There is no indication what al-Hariri plans to do after visiting Paris, but Macron had insisted he would then be free to return to Lebanon to either hand in or rethink his decision to quit.

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