Aoun from Lebanon holds talks on the Hariri government


BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese President Michel Aoun met on Monday with political leaders about the future of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's government after he postponed his resignation from the shock.

PHOTO OF THE ARCHIVE: Lebanese President Michel Aoun is seen in the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, on November 7, 2017. REUTERS / Mohamed Azakir / Photo Archive

A Lebanese high-ranking official said consultations in the presidential palace in Baabda to help Hariri's government to "get back on its feet," after weeks of political unrest triggered by Hariri's resignation on Nov. 4, announced in Riyadh.

Lebanese officials say that Saudi Arabia forced Hariri to resign and held him against his will, sparking a French intervention that led to his return to Beirut last week.

Riyadh says that Hariri, the main Sunni Muslim Muslim politician in Lebanon and a Saudi ally for a long time, freely resigned and denies having detained him.

In his resignation speech, Hariri harshly criticized Iran and its strongly armed Lebanese Shiite Muslim ally, Hezbollah for its meddling in the Arab world. Since his return to Beirut, Hariri has said that all Lebanese must adhere to the state policy of "disengagement" or stay away from regional conflicts, a reference to Hezbollah.

Druze political leader Walid Jumblatt, an influential figure in Lebanon, said after meeting Aoun that it was important to talk about "disbadociation" and how to achieve it.

He said that it would be wise not to raise the issue of Hezbollah weapons in the discussions, referring to previous rounds of futile talks on this point.

The Lebanese senior official said that "the consultations could end with Lebanon reaffirming the ministerial declaration that implicitly includes the dissociation". The official spoke on condition of anonymity since Aoun's consultations were not over.

Hariri said on Saturday he would not accept "Hezbollah positions that affect our Arab brothers or point to the security and stability of their countries."


Report by Tom Perry and Laila Bbadam; edition by Mark Heinrich

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