European Union says Hariri must return to Lebanon, warns against Saudi interference

Leading article November 12 2017 12:01am The Sunday Times Saudi Arabia’s young man in a hurry is taking big risks

Leading article November 12 2017 12:01am The Sunday Times Saudi Arabia’s young man in a hurry is taking big risks

Iran said on Monday that it does not interfere in Lebanon and that comments on Sunday by Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese prime minister on Saudi TV nine days ago, gave hope he would soon return to his country, state TV reported.

Hariri explained that his resignation was not officially accepted in Lebanon because it was announced from Riyadh. "We believe it is essential to avoid importing into Lebanon regional conflicts", she said after hosting a meeting of all 28 European Union foreign ministers in Brussels.

She said outside interference in Lebanon - buffeted for decades by conflicts between bigger players in the region such as Iran and Syria - was a "current and always existing threat".

"We are preoccupied by the situation in Lebanon... we are worried about its stability, we are worried about its integrity, we are worried about non-interference", Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

He is set to visit the Saudi capital on Thursday.

"To reach a political solution in Lebanon, all political figures must have complete freedom of movement", he told reporters when asked about Hariri.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone on Sunday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the two leaders agreed to take stock on Wednesday on the sidelines of the COP23 climate conference in Bonn.

At the end of the November 6-10 session of the Catholic Council of the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, the prelates said their pain "is the continuation of wars in the countries of the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen, which have shaken the stability and peace and caused the programmed demolition and the ravages and misfortunes of innocent citizens". "So, we are waiting for hear from him the truth". "We want our Prime Minister to be back, freely, in his country, where he can declare whatever he wants".

Catholic leaders in Lebanon urged the global community to stop wars and bring peace to the Middle East, and they said Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, would carry that message to Saudi Arabia Nov. 13.

Tillerson warned against "any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country".

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