Lebanese PM Hariri accepts invitation to France


Macron told reporters that he offered Hariri the opportunity to visit France during a meeting between himself, the Lebanese Prime Minister, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Aoun added that he will decide the next steps for the Lebanese government once Hariri is back in Lebanon.

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

Hariri also left open the possibility that he may withdraw his resignation if certain conditions are met - in particular an end to the involvement of Lebanon's powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah in regional conflicts.

Hariri refuted supporting the Iran-backed guerrilla group in any way, announcing his resignation the following day from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Velayati also threatened to sink Lebanon into chaos, bringing in commanders from Hezbollah's security apparatus and asking them to present documents proving that the Lebanese Future Party (led by Hariri) had provided Western sources with sensitive information that led to the elimination of Hezbollah's field commanders in Syria by Israel.

"The accusation that the kingdom would hold a prime minister or a former prime minister is not true, especially a political ally like" Hariri, al-Jubeir said during a press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian who is visiting Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has denied forcing Hariri to resign or detaining him. Hezbollah had increased inside and outside of Lebanon.

Hariri acknowledged in the interview that his resignation was unconventional, adding that he was ready to return to Lebanon to formally submit it and seek a settlement with Hezbollah.

Al-Jubeir railed against Hezbollah, calling it a "first-class terrorist organization" that should lay down its arms and respect Lebanon's sovereignty.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile ratcheted up the rhetoric against Saudi Arabia, his country's main regional rival, saying the kingdom pressured Hariri to resign in a "rare" intervention in another nation's affairs. According to the New York Times, Nasrallah said, "We, Hezbollah, did not wish for this".

"We consider him detained, arrested" in violation of worldwide laws, Aoun wrote on his official Twitter account.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has toured European capitals seeking diplomatic help to end the crisis.