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Hariri rescinds resignation

Thursday, December 07, 2017

BEIRUT - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri rescinded his resignation on Tuesday, drawing a line under a month-long crisis triggered when he announced from Riyadh that he was stepping down and remained outside Lebanon for weeks.

His coalition government, which includes the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, reaffirmed a state policy of staying out of conflicts in Arab states. Mr Hariri's Saudi allies accuse Hezbollah of waging war across the Middle East as agents of Iran.

Mr Hariri's shock resignation had thrust Lebanon to the forefront of the regional quarrel between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has been played out on battlefields in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Lebanese officials said Saudi Arabia had coerced Mr Hariri, a long-time Saudi ally, into resigning and put him under effective house arrest until an intervention by France led to his return to Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Mr Hariri have denied this.

President Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, refused to accept his resignation while he remained abroad.

Saudi concern over the influence wielded by Shi'ite Muslim Iran and Hezbollah in other Arab states had been widely seen as the root cause of the crisis, which raised fears for Lebanon's economic and political stability.

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