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Hariri says he will return to Lebanon soon, leaves doubt about resignation

Hariri says he will return to Lebanon soon, leaves doubt about resignation

"For there to be a political solution in Lebanon, it is necessary that all of the political leaders have total freedom of movement and that non-interference is a fundamental principle", Mr Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels.

Hariri's abrupt arrival in Saudi Arabia is seen by many in Lebanon as a blunt signal from Riyadh that he had not done enough to rebuff Hezbollah and Iranian influence, and that Saudi Arabia intends to assert its influence in Lebanon against Iran.

In his apparently forced resignation speech, Harari said he feared assassination and he accused Iran of working with Hezbollah in sowing strife in the Arab world.

Also speaking on Monday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Mr Hariri's remarks a day before gave the "small hope of the possibility of his return to Lebanon", adding, "Iran does not interfere in Lebanon's affairs".

He has not returned to Lebanon since - despite the calls of Lebanese politicians and global observers who suspect that Saudi may be holding him under duress.

Hariri said his resignation was intended as a "positive shock" to his country, which he saw in danger.

In Beirut people are anxious about an escalation, but are holding demonstrations in support of Mr Hariri, who many insist remains the Prime Minister. His family lives in Riyadh.

No free higher education, cost-sharing more feasible - Heher Report
After failing to present the report within the 18-month deadline, the commission had its term extended until June 30, 2017. The commission further recommend that government considers the introduction of a university fee capping mechanism.

Shortly before the interview aired on Sunday night, president Aoun reiterated his belief that Mr Hariri was under duress and that anything he said should be "subject to doubt".

Hariri had not been heard from since but met with foreign diplomats, and appeared with Saudi royalty and in Abu Dhabi.

Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has made a public address accusing Saudi Arabia of detaining Mr Hariri against his will.

Hariri was a regular participant in the marathon, giving the global sports event a big boost.

His resignation is part of a much bigger geopolitical drama that is now unfolding in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Large billboards with pictures of Mr Hariri rose overhead, and a local TV station showed an hour-long profile and interview with Mr Hariri from past year. We want him to first come to Lebanon.

Joanne Hamza, a physical education teacher who wore a cap with a picture of Hariri on it, said he was missed at the race. "This is somehow reassuring but we still want him with us".

The US and France have noted the diplomatic anomaly, expressing their support for Hariri and for Lebanon's sovereignty as tensions have risen between Beirut and Riyadh.