Lebanese PM 'held captive' in Saudi Arabia, leader says

Current unrest in the region started on November 4, when the prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, announced his resignation by reading a statement on live television.

Earlier on Wednesday, Macron had said he "wished" that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri "confirm" from Lebanon "his willingness to resign, if that is his choice", French government spokesman Christophe Castaner said. He has not returned to Lebanon since, and the Lebanese president has refused to accept his resignation before he returns to the country to explain the circumstances of his decision.

Macron's invitation came after he spoke to both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri by telephone, the Elysee said in a statement.

In a followup phone call from Monaco with the AP Wednesday, Bahaa Hariri declined to comment further.

This was his strongest-worded statement yet on the situation around the Lebanese prime minister, who is said to be stuck in Riyadh.

The Saudi government has denied holding him against his will or putting pressure on him to resign in an attempt to curb the influence of its regional rival, Iran.

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The EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said Tuesday that European diplomats had "close contacts" with Hariri and also expected him to return home "in the coming days".

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah, has made the same accusation.

Global pressure has been mounting for Hariri to return to Beirut after his prolonged stay in the kingdom since he announced in a televised speech from Riyadh on November 4 that he would be stepping down, tipping his country into crisis.

"No decision can be made on a resignation from overseas", Aoun added.

Velayati also praised relations between Iran and Lebanon. Hariri gave his first public remarks on Sunday, saying in a televised interview in Riyadh he planned to return to Lebanon within days to affirm his resignation.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil said in Paris that Lebanon wants to resolve Hariri's "ambiguous" condition with Saudi Arabia in a "brotherly" fashion. French President Emmanuel Macron paid a surprise visit to the kingdom last week.

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