Lebanon premier heading to Egypt amid political tensions
By ANGELA CHARLTON, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left France on Tuesday for Egypt, a French official said, as Lebanon awaits his return and clarity about his political future.
But first, Hariri went for what appeared to be a morning jog. He left his residence in a high-end Paris neighborhood wearing a sweatshirt, running shoes and shorts — despite the 9 C (48 F) temperature.
He soon returned, and then departed the residence surrounded by bodyguards and escorted by a police convoy. His office said he was going to Egypt on Tuesday to meet with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi.
A French official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, confirmed that Hariri had left France.
Hariri’s whereabouts have prompted intense scrutiny since he made a surprise resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia Nov. 4 that unleashed fears of a crisis in Lebanon.
Hariri came to France on Saturday on the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron, trying to calm tensions and avert a proxy conflict between Saudi-backed and Iranian-backed camps in Lebanon.
After meeting Macron, Hariri said he would be home in Lebanon in time for Wednesday’s Independence Day celebrations, where he said he would “declare my political stance.”
“As you know I have resigned and we will talk about this matter in Lebanon,” Hariri said after thanking Macron, who he added “expressed pure friendship toward me that I will never forget.”
However, Hariri’s political status is murky. Lebanon’s president refused to accept Hariri’s resignation, accusing the Saudis of holding him against his will.
Before leaving Riyadh, Hariri dismissed as “rumors” reports about his alleged detention in the kingdom.
The Independence Day ceremony is usually headed by the president, prime minister and parliament speaker, and Hariri’s presence could help calm uncertainties.