Lebanon's Hariri rescinds resignation, drawing line under crisis

Prime Minister Saad Hariri

Prime Minister Saad Hariri

The Central News Agency quoted political sources as saying that France has stepped up its measures to end the crisis, as President Emmanuel Macron dispatched to Iran the head of France's foreign intelligence service, Bernard Emie, who met with a number of Iranian officials and discussed with them the expected settlement, and the need to show Tehran's approval and flexibility, paving the way for Hezbollah's withdrawal from Arab conflict zones.

Some Lebanese officials have said that Riyadh forced Hariri to tender his resignation, although Saudi Arabia has denied this.

In recent days, consultations across the political spectrum have sought to find a compromise between the Saudi-backed camp led by Hariri, and Hezbollah's Iran-backed bloc.

Hariri announced his resignation in a November 4 televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia, citing the Iranian-backed Hezbollah's meddling in regional affairs as a main reason for stepping down.

"The cabinet thanks its leader for his position and for revoking his resignation", he added, reading out a government statement that referred to himself.

President Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, refused to accept his resignation while he remained overseas.

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The conflict in Syria has also deepened existing tensions, with Hariri's bloc backing the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad while Hezbollah's fighters battled alongside the regime's troops.

Aoun was reported to be seeking Cabinet unanimity on the three topics raised by Hariri in his resignation announcement - compliance with the policy of dissociation from regional conflicts, noninterference in the internal affairs of Arab countries, and commitment to the 1989 Taif Accord.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri speaks after a cabinet meeting in Baabda near Beirut, Lebanon December 5, 2017.

It was only after he finally returned that, in another dramatic twist, Hariri provisionally suspended his resignation on condition that Lebanon more closely examine the considerable role played by Hezbollah - and, in turn, the group's Iranian backers. "Perhaps the conflict is nearing the end, and Lebanon can not be plunged into chaos on the finish line", he said.

"If we are rejecting interference by any state in Lebanese affairs, it can not be that we accept that any Lebanese side interferes in the affairs of Arab states", he added.

In his comments Tuesday, Hariri stressed that whatever the future may hold for the region, Lebanon must remain aloof. We must be convinced that interfering in the internal affairs of the Gulf States has serious repercussions on our situation and our interests.

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