Controversy

BEIRUT – France said on Wednesday that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who Lebanon’s president says is being held hostage by Saudi Arabia, will visit France with his family in coming days.

Mr Hariri travelled to Riyadh on November 3 before abruptly resigning in a televised statement a day later. He has stayed in Riyadh and top Lebanese officials and senior politicians close to Mr Hariri have told Reuters he was forced to quit.

Mr Hariri and Saudi Arabia have both denied he is being held in Riyadh or was coerced to resign.

The crisis has thrust Lebanon onto the frontline of a Middle East contest for power pitting a Saudi-led bloc against Iran and its allies, including the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that he had invited Mr Hariri to France after speaking to him and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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