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Emerging after shock resignation, Lebanon's Hariri says he will return 'soon'

14 November 2017

Since Mr Hariri's surprise resignation last Saturday in a statement broadcast from a Saudi state-owned TV station in Riyadh he has not returned home, leaving the Lebanese asking: Where is our prime minister?

"Lebanon's issues are related to the Lebanese themselves and we will not interfere in Lebanon's issues and based on our principled policies, we never interfere in other countries' internal affairs", Qassemi told reporters in his weekly press conference in Tehran on Monday.

In a television interview, the Saudi-allied Hariri held out the possibility he could yet rescind his resignation if Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen, his first public comments since he read out his resignation on television from Riyadh eight days ago. He vowed to return to Lebanon "within days".

In a live interview shown on his Future TV, Hariri said he had resigned to protect Lebanon from imminent danger, although he didn't specify who was threatening the country. Aoun refused to accept Hariri's resignation unless he tendered it in person in Lebanon. He added that anything Hariri has said or may say "does not reflect reality" due to the mystery of his situation. "Everyone may not agree with Hariri's politics, but he is our prime minister".

But he said his resignation was his decision, dismissing reports he was forced to quit a unity government with Hezbollah.

In his November 12 address, Hariri said he would return to seek a settlement with the militant group Hezbollah, his rivals in the coalition government.

The resignation and its aftermath have thrust Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. Then, when an quake was reported in Iraq and Iran, she referenced it, telling Hariri it was to make sure people believed the interview was live.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack, saying the missiles bore "Iranian markings". A Saudi-led coalition has been at war with the Houthis since March 2015.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (C) and Jordan's King Abdullah II (unseen) review the honor guard during an official welcome ceremony at Marka airport in Amman on February 14, 2017.

"The Lebanese people have been waiting for him (Hariri) to return because the situation has come to a stop and the Lebanese people have been unsettled", el-Rai said.

Asked why Hariri was wearing the same suit for three days, he said: "I said I'm not responsible for his closet".

"We are in the eye of the storm", he said.

Emerging after shock resignation, Lebanon's Hariri says he will return 'soon'