clear
Friday November 17th, 2017 6:19PM

Amid intrigue, Saudi king receives Lebanon's outgoing PM

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon's outgoing prime minister who unexpectedly resigned during a trip to Saudi Arabia met with Saudi King Salman on Monday as speculation continued to swirl over his surprising move.

The official Saudi Press Agency carried photos of the two meeting at one of the Riyadh palaces but there was no indication when Saad Hariri would return to Lebanon.

The resignation threw Lebanon's fragile government into disarray. President Michel Aoun, who must accept the resignation for it to be valid, said in a statement Saturday that he would await Hariri's return to consider the matter.

It is not clear when or if Hariri will return. In a sign of the uncertainty the country now faces, powerful parliament speaker Nabih Berri said after meeting Aoun that it is "too early" to consider Hariri's resignation.

SPA said four government ministers attended Monday's meeting between Salman and Hariri, including Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan, who predicted on Lebanon's MTV station last week that "astonishing developments" were coming for Lebanon.

Hariri stunned the Lebanese with his resignation on Saturday and the haltingly delivered televised statement from the kingdom fuelled speculations. In the speech, he accused Iran of meddling in Arab affairs and the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of holding Lebanon hostage.

Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah, Hariri's top political rival at home, speculated on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign amid the deepening Saudi-Iran rivalry.

Monday's SPA photos appeared aimed at dispelling rumors, acknowledged by the press agency, that the prime minister was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will.

A photo released by the Lebanese government last week showed Hariri with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, during a meeting in Riyadh. The Saudi heir to the throne has been moving fast to consolidate power and has been overseeing an unprecedented wave of arrests over the weekend of dozens of the country's most powerful princes, military officers, influential businessmen and government ministers.

The 47-year old Hariri was appointed prime minister in late 2016 and headed a 30-member coalition government that included Hezbollah. It was an uneasy partnership between Hariri, who heads a Sunni-led camp loyal to Saudi Arabia, and Hezbollah, which is loyal to the Shiite Iran. Aoun, who was elected president in October 2016 after more than a two-year presidential vacuum, is a close ally of Hezbollah.

Lebanon has weathered waves of assassinations — including that of Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who was killed in a Beirut truck bombing in 2005, an assassination some have blamed on Hezbollah — and terror blasts and numerous political crises since emerging from a 15-year civil war which ended in 1990. It also survived a war with Israel in 2006 and a protracted Israeli occupation of its southern territories until 2000.

Hezbollah is the single most potent military and political force in Lebanon, with an arsenal rivaling that of the Lebanese army. Its bloc, with allies, holds nearly half the seats in parliament.

___

This story has been corrected to show that the Saudi foreign minister's name is Adel al-Jubeir, not Ali Jubair.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Fiji calls for urgency in talks to implement climate accord
Fiji's prime minister has called for a sense of urgency and told negotiators that "we must not fail our people" as he opened two-week talks on implementing the Paris agreement to fight climate change
7:19AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Both candidates claim momentum in Virginia governor's race
Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam both claim momentum is on their side in the final days of Virginia's high-stakes, closely watched race for governor
7:16AM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: Saudi king swears in new officials after arrests
Saudi King Salman has sworn in new officials to take over from a powerful prince and former minister believed to be detained in a large-scale sweep
7:10AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Sicily vote neck-and-neck between center-right and populists
Early results in regional elections in Sicily indicate that the center-right is slightly edging the populist 5-Star movement in a neck-and-neck race
6:21AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump's Japan visit includes formalities and fish
President Donald Trump's visit to Japan briefly took a turn from formal to fishy
6:17AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: German minister says climate deal irreversible
Germany's environment minister is declaring that the Paris accord to combat climate change is "irreversible" as negotiators gather to discuss how to implement the agreement
6:15AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Fiji calls for urgency in talks to implement climate accord
Fiji's prime minister has called for a sense of urgency and told negotiators that "we must not fail our people" as he opened two-week talks on implementing the Paris agreement to fight climate change
7:19AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Both candidates claim momentum in Virginia governor's race
Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam both claim momentum is on their side in the final days of Virginia's high-stakes, closely watched race for governor
7:16AM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: Saudi king swears in new officials after arrests
Saudi King Salman has sworn in new officials to take over from a powerful prince and former minister believed to be detained in a large-scale sweep
7:10AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Andrew Lloyd Webber is ready to write his own story
Andrew Lloyd Webber plans to release his autobiography 'Unmasked' in March from HarperCollins, which coincides with his 70th birthday
7:09AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Trump stands with Japan, denounces North Korean aggression
President Donald Trump is ratcheting up the pressure on North Korea, refusing to rule out eventual military action and declaring that the United States "will not stand" for Pyongyang menacing America or its Asian allies
6:48AM ( 41 minutes ago )