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Lebanon

Lebanon's premier Saad Hariri rescinds shock resignation

After Lebanon's cabinet reaffirmed an official policy of remaining neutral in regional conflicts, Saad Hariri has withdrawn his resignation. He is expected to attend talks in Paris with US and French diplomats.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Haririsaid on Tuesday that he was revoking his resignation after his surprise announcement that he was stepping down prompted a political crisis in the country.

Hariri said he changed his mind about quitting after receiving assurances from other members of government that they would not meddle in foreign conflicts.

"The Lebanese government, in all its political components, has committed to distance itself from all conflicts, wars, and internal affairs of Arab states," said a cabinet statement read out loud by Hariri.

The cabinet reaffirmed its official policy of "disassociation" from regional rivalries.

Iran backs the Shiite group Hezbollah, which is part of the Lebanese government. Saudi Arabia has accused the powerful armed group of fermenting conflict in the region. 

Hariri also announced that he will travel o Paris on Friday to meet with French diplomats and the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for talks on the recent upheaval.

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Tensions run high between Saudi Arabia and Iran

Regional rivalry

The crisis was kicked off last month when Hariri announced his shock resignation while abroad in Saudi Arabia.

Hariri's planned departure was seen as the latest fallout from the proxy war between Sunni-majority Saudia Arabia and Shiite-majority Iran, who back different sides in Syria and Yemen's civil wars. This rivalry has sometimes pitted Hariri against President Michel Aoun.

The tension between Hariri and President Aoun also centers around their diverging stances on the militant group Hezbollah, which has supported President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict, as has Iran.

Although he is a Christian, Aoun has taken a sympathetic view of the Islamist Hezbollah. Hariri, however, who is friendlier towards Saudi Arabia and has sent his children to school there, has a darker history with the group — his father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, was killed in a bombing blamed on Hezbollah in 2005.

Some Lebanese officials have said that Riyadh forced Hariri to tender his resignation, although Saudi Arabia has denied this.

Last week, Hariri told French magazine Paris Match that he lives in "constant fear of his life" from agents of the Assad regime.

es/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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