Naharnet

Report: UAE Mediation behind Riyadh's Hariri Invitation

U.S. and European pressures as well as an Emirati mediation were behind Saudi Arabia's decision to "restore communication with Prime Minister Saad Hariri," a media report said.

"Around a month ago, the head of UAE intelligence visited Lebanon secretly and met with Hariri for long hours," al-Akhbar newspaper quoted "highly informed official sources" as saying in remarks published Thursday.

The Emirati intelligence chief also met with a small number of figures, among them Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, the sources added.

Hariri met Saudi King Salman on Wednesday in his first visit to Saudi Arabia since his bizarre resignation announcement in the kingdom sparked a crisis between Beirut and Riyadh.

Hariri announced on November 4 that he was stepping down in a televised address from Riyadh, only to rescind it the following month after France intervened.

The shock resignation stirred tensions between Riyadh and Beirut, amid suspicions Hariri had been placed under house arrest.

Hariri is also due to hold talks with powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose impact on the kingdom's policies has steadily expanded since his appointment as heir to the throne in June.

His visit comes after a meeting Monday in Beirut with Saudi envoy Nizar al-Aloula during which Hariri said he received and accepted an invitation to travel to Riyadh.

Aloula also met with President Michel Aoun, who told him of Lebanon's desire to "maintain the best relations" with the oil-rich Gulf state.


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