The French president’s office said Thursday that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has accepted an invitation to come to France after his surprise resignation from Saudi Arabia nearly two weeks ago that stunned Lebanon and rattled the region.
An official in President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Hariri is expected in France in the coming days. The official was not authorized to be publicly named.
Hariri announced his resignation from Saudi Arabia on November 4, citing meddling in the region’s affairs by Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah. He has not returned to Lebanon since, and the Lebanese president has refused to accept his resignation before he returns.
France, Lebanon’s onetime colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate in the crisis. On Wednesday, Macron invited Hariri and his family to come to France, apparently as a way to put an end to allegations that the prime minister is being held against his will.
The resignation of the Saudi-backed Hariri stunned Lebanon, throwing its government into turmoil.
In Beirut, Lebanese President Michel Aoun tweeted on Thursday that he hoped the country’s political crisis was over following Saad Hariri’s acceptance of a French invitation to visit Paris.
Earlier a source close to Hariri said the prime minister, who resigned this month while in Saudi Arabia but has yet to return to Beirut, was expected to leave Riyadh for France within the next 48 hours.
Aoun said Lebanon remained committed to its policy of staying out of regional conflicts, especially those between Arab states, presidential sources said on Thursday.