Egypt, France Mediate to Keep Lebanon's PM Hariri in Office

Posted November 22, 2017

Hariri was leading a coalition government with his political opponents in the militant group Hezbollah when he stunned Lebanon by announcing his resignation in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia on November 4.

With the Egyptian president, Hariri discussed the political crisis set off by his resignation - el-Sissi and France's Macron are reportedly trying to mediate a solution that would involve rolling back Hariri's resignation.

Hariri arrived at Cairo International Airport, where he was received by Egypt's health minister, the Lebanese ambassador to Cairo and Egypt's ambassador to Beirut, his press office said. Aoun, a Christian, is a political ally of Hezbollah.

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The two leaders will talk about "ideas to stabilize the situation in Lebanon", he said, adding they agreed to meet to "see if we can adopt similar approaches, as much as possible, concerning this threat and the nuclear agreement with Iran". But he left Saudi Arabia for Paris on Saturday by invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, before traveling on to Beirut by way of Egypt and Cyprus.

Fireworks were heard in Beirut as Hariri supporters in mainly Sunni areas celebrated his impending return. Lebanese officials suggested that Hariri could have been forcibly held in Saudi Arabia, but he dismissed these allegations.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, is a long-time ally of Saudi Arabia.

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"What the Egyptians and French need to do is to convince Mohammed bin Salman" to spare Lebanon a political crisis, he said, alluding to widespread suspicions that the Saudi crown prince, King Salman's son, was behind Hariri's resignation as part of the kingdom's conflict with Shiite and non-Arab Iran. Hariri's government, a power-sharing coalition formed past year, includes Hezbollah. On Thursday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking alongside his Saudi counterpart, denounced Tehran's "hegemonic temptations".

On Saturday, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's supreme leader, said Macron should stay out of its affairs.

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