Lebanese premier Hariri leaves Paris for Cairo

Sisi and Hariri

Lebanon's president, Michael Aoun, refused to accept the resignation and accused the Saudis of holding Hariri against his will.

A message on Hariri's Twitter account said he would meet and then dine with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has sought to defuse the tensions between Hariri's sponsors in Saudi Arabia and the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah and its Iranian patrons.

Mr Hariri, who flew to France from Saudi Arabia, where he first made his shock resignation announcement, said he will go back to Lebanon in the coming days to take part in Independence Day celebrations. The two leaders emphasized that preserving Lebanon's national unity and the country's national interests was a top priority, according to the statement.

Hariri's failure to return to Lebanon since his resignation sparked rumours he was being held in Riyadh against his will, which both he and Saudi officials have denied.

"As you know I have resigned and we will talk about this matter in Lebanon", Hariri said. Saudi Arabia and Hariri say his movements are not restricted.

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Okab Saqr, a member of parliament for Hariri's Future Movement, said after Hariri's visit to France he would have "a small Arab tour" before traveling to Beirut. El-Sissi returned home from Cyprus on Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, a senior Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, acknowledged publicly that joint enmity for Iran has pushed Israel and Saudi Arabia closer and that the two states, which do not enjoy formal diplomatic relations, had established "partly secret" ties to counter Iran's influence in the region.

The only group to maintain a paramilitary force since the end of Lebanon's bloody 15-year civil war in 1990, Hezbollah, which is financially and militarily supported by Iran, ignores the official Lebanese policy of staying out of regional conflicts.

A poster bearing a portrait of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri reads in Arabic "There is no hapiness without Saad" is seen on a billboard on Beirut's airport highway, on November 21, 2017.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir meanwhile insisted from Madrid on Friday that "unless Hezbollah disarms and becomes a political party, Lebanon will be held hostage by Hezbollah and, by extension, Iran". He said Tehran was sowing "chaos and destruction" in the region.



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