Lebanon’s Prime Minister Posts Smiling Selfie With Saudi Crown Prince

Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon, right, tweeted a grinning selfie on Friday with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, left, and the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman. CreditSaad Hariri, via Twitter

By MEGAN SPECIAPrime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon baffled his country and the international community late last year, when he traveled to Saudi Arabiaand resigned from his post — unexpectedly and, as it turned out, temporarily — in a live, televised address from Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
So it bewildered some when, on Friday, during another visit to Riyadh, Mr. Hariri tweeted a grinning selfie, posing alongside Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khaled bin Salman.

Some Twitter users reacted with surprise, and others with messages that implied Mr. Hariri was performing. But the selfie was an indication that relations between the leaders, at least on the surface, had normalized.

The smiling image reflected a drastic change in tone from Mr. Hariri’s last trip to the Saudi capital, when he was summoned to the royal offices, stripped of his cellphones and separated from most of his bodyguards before being given a pre-written resignation speech to read on Saudi television.

His strange resignation was orchestrated by Saudi authorities, officials revealed in the weeks that followed. After a few weeks — and some French intervention — Mr. Hariri eventually returned to Lebanon and reclaimed his position in the Lebanese government. This week’s visit was his first to Saudi Arabia since his strange sojourn there.

Mr. Hariri arrived on Wednesday at the invitation of the royal family and met with King Salman. The two appeared together in state media reports smiling and shaking hands at Al-Yamamah Palace.

Saudi media steered clear of mentioning the prime minister’s earlier resignation, and both sides focused on the path forward for the two nations.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia, right, welcomed Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh this past week.CreditDalati Nohra European Pressphoto Agency

And then on Friday, Mr. Hariri met with the kingdom’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia has seen drastic changes under the influence of the young, assertive heir. He has ordered the arrest of princes and business elites, given women the right to drive and blockaded neighboring Qatar.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that the leaders “reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries and discussed developments in the region.”

New York Times