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Lebanon's Hariri meets Saudi King amid rumours he is 'captive of Riyadh'

It is uncertain if Hariri will return to Lebanon [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 November, 2017

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Saudi King Salman hosted Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, less than 48-hours after he resigned as premier during a televised address from Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri, less than 48 hours after he resigned as premier in a televised address from Riyadh.

During the meeting, "they reviewed the situation in Lebanon", said the state-run agency Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi interior minister, foreign minister, and minister of state for Arab and Gulf affairs were present at the meeting.

Hariri, a protege of Riyadh, on Saturday announced his surprise resignation in a broadcast from the Saudi capital.

He cited the "grip" of the Iran-backed Shia movement Hizballah on Lebanon, and also said he feared for his life. Hariri also accused Iran of meddling in Arab affairs

The resignation has thrown Lebanon's fragile government into disarray. President Michel Aoun said he would not accept the resignation until it has been delivered to him in person.

It is uncertain if Hariri will return to Lebanon.

The shock resignation came amid a roundup of royals, ministers and businessmen in Saudi Arabia.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, notorious Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahidd claimed Hariri was being held captive by Saudi authorities to extort him financially.

"The real reason for [Hariri] going to Riyadh is to hold him captive with the rest of the detained princes and businessmen to blackmail him and force him to restore the funds he has abroad, particularly those not linked to Lebanon," Mujtahidd said.

"The statement he read was written for him. He was not satisfied with the terms of submitting his resignation from Riyadh. How is it possible for a political leader to announce his resignation from another country's capital?"

The anonymous whistleblower dismissed Hariri's claim that he was at risk of assassination from Iran, adding that Sunni extremist groups posed a greater threat to his life.

Hizballah's leader Hassan Nasrallah speculated on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign amid the deepening Saudi-Iran rivalry.

Nasrallah questioned the timing of Hariri's announcement when "things are proceeding normally... in the heart of government" in Lebanon.

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