Egypt's Sisi meets Lebanese PM Hariri in Cairo

Nov 22, 2017, 00:50
Egypt's Sisi meets Lebanese PM Hariri in Cairo

Lebanon's Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as prime minister on November 4, has met Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for talks in a brief Cairo stopover before a planned return to Lebanon, Egypt state media said on Tuesday.

Fireworks were heard in Beirut as Hariri supporters in mainly Sunni areas celebrated his impending return. His press office said he was traveling to Beirut.

Hariri's mysterious decision to step down - which the president Michel Aoun has refused to accept while Hariri remains overseas - has raised fears over Lebanon's fragile democracy. The Shiite militant group is a key member of Hariri's ruling coalition and Lebanon's single most dominant force. Aoun, a Christian, is a political ally of Hezbollah.

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A dual Saudi-Lebanese national with vast business interests in the kingdom, Hariri left for Lebanon after his talks with el-Sissi.

Aoun has called Hariri a Saudi hostage and refused to accept his resignation unless he returns to Lebanon. After meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, Hariri said he would return in time for Wednesday's celebrations to Lebanon, where he said he would "declare my political stance".

The Saudi-owned, pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat alluded to French and Egyptian efforts in a front-page report on Tuesday.

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Al-Akhbar noted that negotiations were held between Egypt on one hand and UAE and Saudi on the other in order to preserve the political settlement reached by all the Lebanese parties and supported by the Arab League, according to which PM Hariri keeps in his post.

Tensions spiked between Saudi Arabia and Iran after the Houthis fired the missile that was intercepted outside Riyadh.

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