Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris for talks with Macron

Lebanon's Hariri arrives in Paris for talks with Macron

AZIZ TAHER

Hariri told Lebanese President Michel Aoun in a phone call from Paris that he would be in Lebanon on Wednesday for Independence Day celebrations, Aoun said on Twitter.

Hariri will meet Macron at noon and then attend a lunch in his honor with his wife and eldest son, the statement said.

Macron said on Friday he would welcome Hariri to Paris as Lebanon's prime minister and expected him to return to Beirut in the "coming days, weeks".

Hariri's abrupt resignation on Nov. 4 and continued stay in Saudi Arabia has caused fears for Lebanon's stability. His visit to France with his family is seen as part of a possible way out of the crisis.

Okab Saqr, a member of parliament for Hariri's Future Movement, had said that after Hariri's visit to France he would have "a small Arab tour" before traveling to Beirut.

The crisis has thrust Lebanon into the regional rivalry pitting Saudi Arabia and its allies against a bloc led by Iran, which includes the heavily armed Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah group.

Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, has called Hariri a Saudi hostage and refused to accept his resignation unless he returns to Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Hariri say his movements are not restricted.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq in Paris and Sarah Dadouch in Beirut; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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