Iran says it does not interfere in Lebanese state affairs, says TV

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a news conference in Dubai

Iran says it does not interfere in Lebanese state affairs, says TV

The interview, which was announced early on Sunday, comes just over a week after Al Hariri's shock resignation from Riyadh. He singled out Yemen, where Saudi-led Arab forces are fighting against the Houthi movement which Riyadh says is backed by Iran.

Mr Hariri also defended his resignation. He said the Arab world would "cut off the hands that wickedly extend to it", language which one source close to him said was not typical of the Lebanese leader.

Hariri said he was a free man.

Hariri said his resignation was intended as a "positive shock" to his country, which he saw in danger.

Hariri came back to Beirut from that trip "pleased and relaxed", sources in his entourage said.

But Riyadh says Hariri is a free man and he made a decision to resign because Hezbollah was calling the shots in his government.

He holds dual Saudi citizenship and is backed by Saudi Arabia in the Lebanese government. "Political parties are allowed, but are they allowed to play a foreign role and make us Lebanese carry its weight?" This year Mr Aoun encouraged runners to call on Mr Hariri to return.

Abi Khalil said on Twitter that he signed a document on Friday calling on companies who submitted bids for the offshore licensee blocks "to negotiate the technical proposals".

Lebanon has always been a hub for proxy battles between Saudi Arabia, Iran and other regional players.

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On Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said "we are preoccupied by the situation in Lebanon".

The Lebanon president sought to smooth his inquiries with soft language, including reminding Riyadh of a "deep brotherly and friendly relations" between the two countries. He told aides he had heard "encouraging statements" from the crown prince, including a promise to revive a Saudi aid package for the Lebanese army.

Representatives of the Lebanese government have demanded that Hariri be returned from Saudi Arabia as rumors that he has been arrested continue to circulate.

"The greatness of the nation of Iran in the region is more than at any other time".

Members of Hariri's own Al Moustaqbal (Future) Party said they had no information on his fate.

"I guess what the Saudis really want are assurances that Hizbollah isn't active in Yemen", said Amal Saad, a political science professor at Lebanese University.

The precise whereabouts of Mr Hariri has been unclear since he resigned from his post in an unexpected televised address from Riyadh on 4 November.

El-Rai heads the Maronite sect, Lebanon's biggest Christian community and the Middle East's largest Catholic church that enjoys wide influence in the country.

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