Le­banese leader to re­turn home

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Josie En­sor in Beirut

SAAD HARIRI, Le­banon’s prime min­is­ter who plunged the coun­try into tur­moil with his sur­prise res­ig­na­tion dur­ing a trip to Saudi Ara­bia ear­lier this month, said yes­ter­day that he would re­turn home “in the next two days”.

In his first tweet in more than a week, Mr Hariri urged Le­banese peo­ple to re­main calm and said his fam­ily would stay in the kingdom.

His halt­ing res­ig­na­tion speech prompted some ob­servers, es­pe­cially Iran-lean­ing and Shia-aligned Le­banese groups, in­clud­ing Hizbol­lah, to sug­gest it was done on Riyadh’s or­ders and that he is un­der de facto house ar­rest. He gave his first pub­lic remarks on the cri­sis to his own Fu­ture TV sta­tion on Sun­day, where he ap­peared tired and un­der strain.

Mr Hariri, a dual Le­banese-saudi na­tional, has homes in Saudi Ara­bia. His wife and chil­dren have been liv­ing in Saudi for years. Some Le­banese of­fi­cials have said he should re­turn with his fam­ily, so he could be free of Saudi pres­sure. Ear­lier, Gi­bran Bas­sil, Le­banon’s for­eign min­is­ter, flew to Brus­sels on the first leg of a Euro­pean tour to rally diplo­matic sup­port for his coun­try fol­low­ing Mr Hariri’s res­ig­na­tion, which was re­fused by Michel Aou, the pres­i­dent.

Mean­while, Save the Chil­dren warned that more than 50,000 Ye­meni chil­dren could die by the end of the year as a re­sult of dis­ease and star­va­tion caused by the war in the coun­try, which has had its bor­der closed with Saudi Ara­bia af­ter the Saudis ac­cused it of host­ing ter­ror­ists.

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