>> French President Emmanuel Macron has invited Lebanon's recently resigned prime minister for a visit, but says it's not an offer of exile.>>
No, not at all. I actually hope the situation in Lebanon fully calmed in that political decisions can be made in accordance with its institutions.
We need a strong Lebanon, as well as territorial integrity and leaders who are free in their choices and expressing them.>> It's an attempt by the French leader to defuse brewing tensions in the Middle East. Saad Al-Hariri abruptly resigned from his position in a television statement eleven days ago.
But in a twist, it was broadcast from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he is remained ever since. Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, refused to accept his prime minister's resignation accusing the Saudis of holding Hariri hostage, and calling it an act of aggression. Saudi Arabia denies detaining the Prime Minister or coercing him to quit.
The kingdom has long been considered Hariri's main external supporter. Whereas Aoun is a political ally of Lebanon's Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite Muslim group with close ties to Iran. Saudi Arabia regards it as a terrorist organization. And last week accused Lebanon of having declared war on it because of Hezbollah's role in other Arab countries.
Hariri has accepted France's invitation and is expected to leave Saudi Arabia within the next 48 hours. He's then due to fly home to Beirut to formally resign. Macron's offer, appeared to be a last minute one, with no indication earlier in the day it was even on the cards.
French diplomats say he's found a way to get Hariri out of Saudi Arabia without any side losing face, but question how it will pan out in the longer term.