On November 15, the French presidency announced in an official statement that France President Emmanuel Macron has invited Lebanon’s prime minister Saad Hariri and his family to stay in France.
“After speaking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri the president has invited Saad al-Hariri and his family to France,” the French presidency said in its official statement.
Back on November 4, Hariri announced his resignation from Saudi Arabia. Since then many Lebanese politicians including Lebanon president Michel Aoun and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that Hariri was forceed to resign by Saudi Arabia and that he is being held by the Saudi authorities against his will.
Commenting on the matter, Macron told reporters that France is not offering an “exile” for Hariri according to Reuters agency.
“I hope that Lebanon will be stable, and that political choices should be in accordance with institutional rule … We need a strong Lebanon with her territorial integrity respected. We need leaders who are free to make their own choices and speak freely,” Macron said.
Meanwhile, a source in the French Elysee palace told Reuters that Hariri is expected to arrive to Paris with his family in the upcoming days.
Macron’s statement is yet another evidence that Hariri was being held against his will in Saudi Arabia. The French invitation appears to be a part of an unannounced deal between France and Saudi Arabia to allow Hariri to leave Saudi Arbia, after huge pressure from the Lebanese government.
It’s still unknown if Hariri will head back to Lebanon soon. Back on November 12, Hariri claimed during an interview that he is going back to Lebanon within “days”, however it looks like it may take more than “days”.