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Visiting Lebanese patriarch meets Saad al-Hariri in Saudi Arabia
14 November 2017, 05:07 | Opal Carroll
The entrance of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. Jacquelyn Martin AP file
Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who plunged the country into crisis with his surprise resignation during a trip to Saudi Arabia, says he will return home in the next two days.
In his resignation address, Hariri criticized Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, accusing them of sowing "sedition" in the region and meddling in Arab affairs.
The meeting tackled "brotherly" relations between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, the official Saudi SPA news agency reported. He denies there are any constraints on his movement.
The Catholic Council of the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon said it was a message that Cardinal Bechara Rai, the Maronite patriarch, would carry to Saudi Arabia on his planned visit this week.
In an hour-long live interview with Lebanon's Future TV that was broadcast from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Hariri appeared despondent and at times seemed to be holding back tears, fueling speculation that his sudden resignation earlier this month was made under pressure from Saudi Arabia.
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Writing on Twitter, Hariri urged Lebanese to remain calm and said his family would stay in Saudi Arabia, calling it "their country".
"I will return to Lebanon very soon to initiate the necessary constitutional procedures", Hariri said.
Under Lebanon's power-sharing system, its president is a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of the House a Shiite Muslim.
Prince Mohammed has taken a harder line on Iran since taking on wide-ranging authorities two years ago including as defense minister, with the kingdom waging a two-year-old war in Yemen against Houthi fighters aligned with Iran.
In a statement from his office, Aoun said "Hariri's freedom has been restricted and conditions have been imposed regarding his residence and the contacts he may have, even with members of his family". He said the original invitation had been extended in 2013 by the late King Abdullah.
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