Macron invites Hariri and family to Paris. Expected to head to Lebanon after Paris visit

hariri-macron parisPrime Minister Saad Hariri will come to France “in the coming days,” a source at the French presidency told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

The development came after the presidency said in a statement that President Emmanuel Macron had “invited” Hariri and his family to France.

The statement said the invitation came after Macron spoke by telephone to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri, who announced his resignation in a surprise statement from the kingdom on November 4.

Lebanon’s LBCI television said Hariri will “likely” head to France on Thursday.

“Macron urged him to return to Lebanon after visiting Paris and he will meet with him the moment he arrives in the French capital,” LBCI added.

Speculation has swirled around Hariri’s prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia since the announcement of his resignation.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) hugs Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on September 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ludovic MARIN
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) hugs Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on September 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ludovic MARIN

There were rumors that Hariri, who is a Saudi citizen and grew up in the kingdom, had been detained along with dozens of Saudis in what Riyadh says is an anti-corruption campaign.

Hariri moved to dispel rumors of his detention, saying on Twitter that he had freedom of movement.

He said he was planning to return home to his “beloved” Lebanon.

President Michel Aoun has yet to officially accept Hariri’s resignation, and has said he will not do so before meeting the premier in person — in Lebanon.

France said earlier Wednesday that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was to meet with Hariri on Thursday during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

AFP