03:55 GMT +320 October 2019
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    Lebanon's prime minister Saad al-Hariri gestures during a press conference in parliament building at downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 9, 2017

    Macron Invites Lebanese PM Hariri to France Amid Rumors of His Detention

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    While Hariri himself has promised to return to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia in the next two days, several officials, including President Aoun suspect that the former prime minister had been detained.

    "After talks with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron] invited Saad Hariri and his family to France," the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

    Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he had an "informal contact" with Hariri, during his visit to Dubai, adding that France did not receive any request from Lebanese ex-prime minister to come to the country.

    The invitation comes in the wake of conflicting statements concerning Hariri's fate after his shock resignation. While Hariri himself has pledged to return to Lebanon in the next few days, saying he is "perfectly fine," the country's president, Michel Aoun has accused Saudi Arabia of detaining the former prime minister and his family.

    Previously, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has stated that Paris believes that Hariri is free in his movements and is not being held in Saudi Arabia.

    READ MORE: French FM Sheds Light on Former Lebanese PM Hariri's Movements After Resignation

    Hariri — who served as prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and took the office again in November 2016 — announced his resignation in a video address from Saudi Arabia on November 4, expressing fears that he could be assassinated, like his father, in Lebanon, as well as accusing Tehran and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement of alleged attempts to destabilize the situation in Lebanon as well as across the Middle East, a claim strongly denied by the Islamic Republic as groundless.

    Media reports citing a Lebanese official have suggested that Hariri's freedom was "restricted" in Riyadh, however, later his office stated that the former prime minister had met a number of European and US diplomats.


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