Lebanon's Hariri on Twitter: "I am on the way to the airport"

Saad Hariri

Saad Hariri

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri will fly to Paris "in the coming days", a spokeswoman for the French presidency said Wednesday, after days of speculation that he was being held against his will in Saudi Arabia. The official was not authorized to be publicly named.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Riyadh that Hariri was free to leave "when he pleases".

"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.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri may soon be able to clarify whether he really means to resign, after French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday invited him to France.

Asked about the date of the visit for talks, Le Drian replied: "Mr. Hariri's schedule is a matter for Mr. Hariri".

"I don't know the source of these accusations". In a TV interview on Sunday, his first public comments since quitting, Hariri said he is free to leave and would return home soon to formally submit his resignation. And while he has denied that he has been detained by Saudi, it is widely reported that the resignation came as a direct result of Saudi pressure on Hariri, and even that the speech was written by officials in Saudi and given to Hariri to read. The Muslim majority nation also meant to play a role in China's "Belt and Road Initiative" and cooperate with Beijing in the energy and financial sectors, he said.

Saudi Arabia is locked in a feud with Iran over regional influence; both countries support different groups in Lebanon.

The resignation of Saudi-aligned Mr Hariri was seen as engineered by Saudi Arabia and raised concerns it would drag Lebanon, with its delicate sectarian-based political system, into the battle for regional supremacy.

Hezbollah accused the kingdom of seeking to sow chaos in Lebanon.

Mr Ghassemi urged the worldwide community to focus instead on "arms sales by some foreign powers to regional countries, which are used in particular in the devastating war in Yemen, and the support being given to Saudi Arabia and its allies, which only makes them more brazen".

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

France, Lebanon's onetime colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate the crisis. On Wednesday, Mr Macron invited Mr Hariri and his family to travel to France, apparently as a way to put an end to allegations the prime minister is being held in Saudi Arabia.

Hezbollah's leader in the country, Hassan Nasrallah, has stated that Hariri is "detained" in Saudi and that the circumstances surrounding the resignation is "illegal".

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