Beirut (Monitoring Desk): Lebanese President Michel Aun has welcomed the Prime Minister Saad Harriri decision to return Lebanon. Harriri has recently resigned from the post while sitting in Saudi Arabia but President of Lebanon refused to accept the resignation.
Hariri who threw Lebanon into political crisis by reading out his resignation on November 4 from Riyadh gave his first public remarks since then in an interview late on Sunday, saying he planned to return within days.
He suggested he could even withdraw his resignation, provided Hezbollah allied to Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran renounces interference in conflicts across the Middle East.
The crisis has thrust tiny Lebanon where Muslim sects, Christian, and Druze groups with backing from regional powers fought a 1975-1990 civil war to the forefront of the rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran being played out on battlefields from Syria to Yemen.
Aoun has said he believes Hariri does not have free control over his own movements while in Saudi Arabia, and that this casts doubt on any statements Hariri makes.
Nevertheless, those close to Aoun said the president welcomed Hariri’s comments.
“President Aoun expressed his pleasure at Hariri’s announcement of his return to Lebanon soon,” a source said.
Aoun said that Hariri was “leaving all doors open including rescinding his resignation”, according to one of a group of visitors who met Aoun. The visitors declined to be identified while discussing the closed-door conversations.
The visitors quoted Aoun as saying that Hariri’s remarks showed that the political deal underpinning Lebanon’s coalition government which includes both Hariri’s party and the heavily-armed Hezbollah still stands.
Aoun has been convening high-level meetings with Lebanese politicians and diplomats since Hariri stepped down, and the visitors said the president believed that Hariri’s comments showed such efforts were working.