Lebanon’s PM Saad Hariri has decided to “suspend” his resignation, which sparked a crisis when he announced it while in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.
Saad Hariri said President Michel Aoun had asked him to “put it on hold ahead of further consultations”.
The two men held talks a day after Saad Hariri flew back to Lebanon.
The prime minister has denied that Saudi Arabia forced him to resign and detained him in an attempt to curb the influence of Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah.
Hezbollah is part of a national unity government formed by Saad Hariri in 2016.
Saad Hariri said after November 22 meeting at the Baabda presidential palace: “Today I presented my resignation to his excellency the president, and he asked me to temporarily suspend submitting it and to put it on hold ahead of further consultations on the reasons for it.
“I expressed my agreement to this request, in the hope that it will form a serious basis for a responsible dialogue.”
He said Lebanon required “exceptional effort from everyone” at this time in order to “protect it in confronting dangers and challenges”.
The prime minister also reiterated the need to remain committed to Lebanon’s state policy of “dissociation regarding wars, external struggles, regional disputes and everything that harms internal stability” – an apparent reference to the activities of Hezbollah.
The Shia Islamist movement acknowledges fighting alongside government forces in Syria and Iraq, and arming Palestinian militants. However, it denies advising and sending weapons to rebel forces in Yemen’s civil war and militants in Bahrain.
Saad Hariri was embraced by President Michel Aoun as the two men attended an independence day military parade in Beirut. The president, a Maronite Christian former army commander and ally of Hezbollah who publicly accused Saudi Arabia of detaining the prime minister, appeared to tell him: “Welcome back!”
Saad Hariri left Riyadh for France at the weekend with his wife and one of his three children. He flew to Lebanon on November 21, stopping in Egypt and Cyprus en route.
On November 20, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech that still considered Saad Hariri prime minister and that the militant Shia Islamist movement was “open to any dialogue and any discussing that happens” in Lebanon.
Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address on November 4 from Riyadh, in which he accused Iran of sowing “discord, devastation and destruction” in the region and said he sensed there was an assassination plot against him.
No details of the alleged plot against Saad al-Hariri have been made public.
Uncertainty surrounds Saad al-Hariri’s circumstances, amid rumors he was being held in Riyadh.
President Macron said on November 9 he had had informal contact with Saad al-Hariri, without giving details, while the French foreign minister said France believed Saad al-Hariri was able to move freely.
On November 5, Saad al-Hariri said in a TV broadcast that he was resigning because of the unspecified threat to his life.
In the video statement, Saad al-Hariri also attacked Hezbollah, which is politically and militarily powerful in Lebanon, and Iran.
There are fears Lebanon could become embroiled in a wider regional confrontation between major Sunni power Saudi Arabia and Shia-dominated Iran.
President Macron is a keen supporter of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which both the Saudis and the Trump administration have heavily criticized.
Before going to Saudi Arabia, Emmanuel Macron said that he had heard “very harsh opinions” on Iran from Saudi Arabia, which did not match his own view.
“It is important to speak with everyone,” the president added.
However, an official communiqué from his office following the visit did not say Iran was among the matters discussed, Le Monde reported.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Lebanon have soared since Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation.
On November 9, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies told their citizens in Lebanon to leave the country immediately. The move came after Saudi Arabia accused Iran of “direct military aggression”, saying it supplied a missile which it says was fired by Hezbollah at Riyadh from Yemen on November 5.
Iran has dismissed Saudi Arabia’s allegations as “false and dangerous”.
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