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Lebanon's Aoun's upbeat on Hariri's comments

Lebanon's Aoun's upbeat on Hariri's comments
From Reuters - November 13, 2017

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday he was pleased by Saad al-Hariris comment that he would return to Lebanon soon to discuss his resignation as prime minister, presidential palace sources said.

In separate remarks relayed by visitors to him, Aoun gave a positive assessment of comments Hariri made in an interview on Sunday, his first since his shock decision to quit delivered from Riyadh on Nov. 4.

President Aoun expressed his pleasure at Hariris announcement of his return to Lebanon soon, a source said. Rescinding his resignation is one of his options, Aoun was quoted as saying of Hariri.

Hariris resignation has pitched Lebanon into a deep political crisis and shaken confidence in its heavily indebted state.

The move -- which has still to be accepted by Aoun -- thrust Lebanon back into the forefront of the regional tussle between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and the Shiite Islamist government of Iran.

Saudi-allied Hariri said in the interview he would return to Lebanon within days, and he held out the possibility he could rescind his resignation if Iran-backed Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen.

Hezbollah is part of the coalition government led by Hariri, who resigned saying that he feared assassination. His father Rafic Hariri, who was also a prime minister, was assassinated in 2005.

Hariri also accused Iran and Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe Saudi Arabia coerced him into quitting and has put him under effective house arrest since he flew to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 3.

Saudi Arabia denies this, and Hariri said during his interview on Sunday that he was a free man.

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