Lebanon’s Hariri arrives in Paris after Saudi ‘hostage’ rumours

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Labanon's Hariri

PARIS: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in France on Saturday from Saudi Arabia, where his shock resignation announcement two weeks ago sparked accusations that he was being held there against his will.
Hariri is in Paris at the invitation of France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who is attempting to help broker a solution to a political crisis that has raised fears over Lebanon’s fragile democracy.
Hariri and his wife Lara, who landed at Le Bourget airport outside the French capital at 7:00 am after flying in from Riyadh overnight, were due to meet Macron at noon.
A source close to the premier told AFP that Hariri’s two youngest children, Loulwa and Abdelaziz, born in 2001 and 2005 respectively, had stayed behind in Riyadh “for their school exams”.
His elder son Houssam, born in 1999, was due to arrive in Paris separately from London.
“Hariri does not want to mix his children up in this affair,” the source said.
The couple were whisked to their Paris residence in a seven-car convoy under tight security.
“To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie,” Hariri had tweeted just before his departure, adding to repeated denials of the rumours from Saudi officials.
A source close to Hariri said the premier had held an “excellent, fruitful and constructive” meeting with powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman before he left.
Hariri, a dual Saudi citizen who has previously enjoyed Riyadh’s backing, announced his resignation on November 4.
He said he feared for his life, accusing Iran and its powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah of destabilising his country.

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