Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Lebanon's PM Hariri withdraws his resignation

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace of Baabda east of the capital Beirut Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace of Baabda east of the capital Beirut
Melinda Barton | 05 December, 2017, 18:14

Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for a Cabinet session at noon Tuesday to endorse an agreement on the country's dissociation policy toward regional conflicts, effectively turning the page on his 1-month-old resignation.

The announcement came at the end of the first cabinet meeting to be held since Lebanon was thrown into a political crisis following Hariri's stunning November 4 move. Hariri, however, who is friendlier towards Saudi Arabia and has sent his children to school there, has a darker history with the group - his father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, was killed in a bombing blamed on Hezbollah in 2005.

The resignation was seen as part of the boiling tensions between the Saudi kingdom - which had long backed Hariri - and its regional rival Iran.

The Lebanese government said in a statement read by Hariri: "The cabinet thanks its leader (Hariri) for his position and for revoking his resignation".

In his resignation, Hariri lambasted Tehran and its Lebanese ally, the powerful armed movement Hezbollah, for destabilising his country and the Middle East.

On Tuesday, Lebanon's cabinet reaffirmed its official policy of "disassociation", or remaining neutral in regional conflicts.

Hariri said he changed his mind about quitting after receiving assurances from other members of government that they would not meddle in foreign conflicts.

Hezbollah is fighting alongside government forces in neighbouring Syria, has dispatched military commanders to Iraq, and is accused of backing Shiite rebels in Yemen.

French President Emmanuel Macron intervened to try defuse the crisis, inviting Hariri to Paris for talks, after which he returned to Beirut to a hero's welcome.