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.
Anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon have accused Damascus of being behind a car bomb attack that killed the head of Lebanon’s internal intelligence in Beirut.
Opposition leader Saad Hariri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt both said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind the bombing in Beirut. A Syrian minister condemned the blast.
Saad Hariri’s coalition called on the government to resign.
Friday’s blast left eight people dead and wounded dozens.
It occurred in the mainly Christian district of Ashrafiya, in a busy street close to the headquarters of Saad Hariri’s 14 March coalition.
Internal intelligence head Wissam al-Hassan was among those who died. He was close to Saad Hariri, a leading critic of the government in neighboring Syria.
Wissam al-Hassan led an investigation that implicated Damascus in the 2005 bombing that killed Saad Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
He also recently organized the arrest of a former minister accused of planning a Syrian-sponsored bombing campaign in Lebanon.
Lebanon’s religious communities are divided between those who support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – including many Shias – and those mostly from the Sunni community who back the rebels.
Tension in Lebanon has been rising as a result of the Syrian conflict.
“We accuse Bashar al-Assad of the assassination of Wissam al-Hassam, the guarantor of the security of the Lebanese,” Saad Hariri said on Lebanese TV.
Walid Jumblatt told satellite channel Al-Arabiya: “[Bashar al-Assad] is telling us that even though he turned Syria into rubble, <<I am ready to kill in any place>>.”
Nadim Gemayel, an MP from the right-wing Christian Phalange Party, also pointed to Syria, where an uprising against Bashar al-Assad that began 18 months ago has led to an increasingly violent conflict.
“This regime, which is crumbling, is trying to export its conflict to Lebanon,” he said.
Saad Hariri’s 14 March bloc issued a statement accusing the Beirut government of protecting “criminals” and calling on it to stand down.
Anti-Syrian protesters burned tires during demonstrations in Beirut and Tripoli late on Friday.
The force of Friday’s blast, the worst in the Lebanese capital for four years, ripped balconies from the fronts of buildings and set many cars on fire. For many, it evoked scenes from Lebanon’s civil war in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the government was trying to identify the perpetrators and they would be punished.
Lebanon’s Shia militant group Hezbollah – a close ally of the Syrian government – condemned the bombing.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi called it a “cowardly, terrorist act”. He said such incidents were “unjustifiable wherever they occur”.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on “all Lebanese parties not to be provoked by this heinous terrorist act”, while EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on “all Lebanese to remain calm”.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the bombing a “dangerous sign that there are those who continue to seek to undermine Lebanon’s stability.”
“Lebanon must close the chapter of its past and bring an end to impunity for political assassinations and other politically motivated violence,” she said.
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