Hariri in Moscow to attend FIFA World Cup match and meet Putin

Prime minister-designate Saad Hariri arrived in Moscow and was met by Zabivaka (Hothead), the official mascot of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and several FIFA officials and the Lebanese ambassador to Moscow Shawki Bou Nassar. Credit Dalati & Nohra
Prime minister-designate Saad Hariri is shown autographing a soccer ball for one of the officials that met him at the airport in Moscow. Lebanese ambassador to Moscow Shawki Bou Nassar who met Hariri is shown standing (R). Credit Dalati & Nohra

Prime minister-designate Saad Hariri will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, the eve of the FIFA World Cup, Hariri’s office said.

He will then attend the football tournament’s inaugural match on Thursday, pitting Russia against his longtime backer, Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has been a key ally of Hariri for years, but the relationship appeared to falter in late 2017 when Hariri announced his surprise resignation during a trip to the kingdom.

He subsequently rescinded the decision and in May was appointed for a new term as prime minister following parliamentary elections.

He is now in talks to form a coalition government.

Hariri, 48, met Putin in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in September 2017.