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Hariri resignsWestern intelligence agencies warned resigned Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri of an assassination plot against him, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Sunday. It cited unnamed sources close to Hariri.

However, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon’s General Security and who is closely asssociated with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group said he had no information about an assassination plot against political figures in Lebanon. The army also said it had not uncovered any such plots.

Hariri announced his resignation on Saturday from Riyadh, saying he believed there was an assassination plot against him and accusing Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival, and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz received Hariri on Monday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

“King Salman met the resigned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri a short while ago,” a presenter on Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said.

Hariri’s resignation toppled a coalition government that included Shi‘ite Muslim group Hezbollah, thrusting Lebanon back into the frontline of the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry and risking an open-ended political crisis.

State news agency SPA carried pictures of Hariri and King Salman greeting each other and then sitting together in a palatial setting.

Hariri’s surprise resignation in a televised speech aired on al-Arabiya TV had drawn criticism and was met with controversy in Beirut. Some have even questioned whether Hariri’s resignation was voluntary.

“We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri. I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” Hariri said.

Rafik al-Hariri was killed in a 2005 Beirut bomb attack that pushed his son Saad into politics and set off years of turmoil. A U.N.-backed tribunal has charged five Hezbollah members over the killing. Hezbollah denies involvement.

Lebanese Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said on Monday that Lebanon’s president would not take any steps regarding Hariri’s resignation before Hariri returns from abroad, stressing that “the resignation must be voluntary.”

President Michel Aoun said earlier on Monday that political leaders had been responsive to calls for calm, strengthening security and national unity after Hariri’s shock resignation.

REUTERS

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