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Saad Hariri: Lebanon return from Saudi Arabia ‘within days’

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Saad Hariri denied he was being held against his will

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he resigned to protect himself and will return home “in days”.

Mr Hariri told Future TV from Riyadh that he was free and would “return to Lebanon very soon”.

Lebanon’s president and others have said he is being held against his will in the Saudi capital.

It is his first interview since his resignation last week which sent shockwaves through the region. He cited an unspecified threat to his life.

Mr Hariri, a Sunni leader and businessman, was nominated to form Lebanon’s government in November 2016.

“I have resigned. I am going to Lebanon very soon and I will resign in the constitutional manner,” he said in the interview.

Mr Hariri recognised that he did not resign in the “usual way” but said he wanted to give his country a “positive shock”.

“My resignation came as a wake-up call for Lebanon,” he said.

Iran and its Lebanese ally, the militant group Hezbollah, have accused Saudi Arabia of holding Mr Hariri hostage.

But Mr Hariri insisted that he was free to travel as he pleased in the country. “I am free here. If I want to travel tomorrow, I will,” he said.

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It was Mr Hariri’s first interview since his shock resignation last week

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has not formally accepted Mr Hariri’s resignation.

“The obscurity surrounding the condition of Prime Minister Saad Hariri since his resignation a week ago means that all positions and actions declared by him or attributed to him do not reflect the truth,” President Aoun said.

In televised remarks from Riyadh a week ago, Mr Hariri accused Iran and Hezbollah, a Shia group, of taking over Lebanon and destabilising the wider region.

He took aim at Hezbollah in his televised interview, saying: “I am not against Hezbollah as a party, I have a problem with Hezbollah destroying the country.”

Mr Hariri said that the main problem for the region was “Iran interfering in Arab states”.

“I will not be responsible for taking Lebanon to a confrontation with the Arab states,” Mr Hariri said, citing the recent launch of a missile against Riyadh from Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition has accused Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah operatives, working alongside Houthi rebels, of being behind the strike.

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