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Lebanese FM: Only Hariri's return can prove his freedom

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) attend a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, November 14, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has said that Prime Minister Saad Hariri can only prove his freedom by returning home.

Bassil made the remark during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in France on Tuesday.

“We hope to resolve this with the quick and immediate return of Prime Minister Hariri to his country ... where he has the right to do what he wants," said Bassil.

Bassil also responded to reports concerning Saudi Arabia's intruding punitive measures against Lebanon.

“Any (Saudi) measures would not only be targeting Lebanon and its stability, this would be a punishment for the region because any instability in Lebanon would cause instability in the region," he said.   

Earlier on Tuesday, Hariri announced he will return to Lebanon in the next two days in a Twitter post.

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Hariri announced his resignation in Riyadh on November 4, shortly after traveling to Saudi Arabia. The televised announcement saw him reading out from a statement.

Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe that Riyadh forced him to step down and has further placed him under effective house arrest since he touched down in Saudi Arabia on November 3, a day before he announced his shock resignation in a televised address aired from the kingdom’s capital.

The Lebanese official is in the Saudi capital with his wife and family. Observers say even if he returned to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia could still hold his family “hostage.”

Hariri took to Twitter on Tuesday, saying he is “well” and will return to Lebanon “within says,” but that his family will stay in Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had assured him during a recent meeting that Hariri made the decision by himself. “As you probably know he [Hariri] is a dual citizen of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. His family has been living in Saudi Arabia for quite some time by his choice, so the foreign minister assured me this was a decision taken solely by him,” Tillerson said.

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