Lebanese patriarch meets Saudi king, Hariri in Riyadh

Lebanese patriarch meets Saudi king, Hariri in Riyadh

Lebanese patriarch meets Saudi king, Hariri in Riyadh

Iran said on Monday that it does not interfere in Lebanon and that comments on Sunday by Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese prime minister nine days ago, gave hope he would soon return to his country, state TV reported.

In his first tweet in more than a week, Hariri told his followers that he is OK, and that he would be returning without his family, who will stay "in their home" in Saudi Arabia.

"Hariri is returning as fast as possible and I support the reasons for his resignation", Rai was quoted as saying by Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi in Riyadh, November 14, 2017.

Riyadh blames Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah for the resignation, accusing it of hijacking Lebanese politics.

Hariri's resignation came amid mounting tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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The political crisis has thrust tiny Lebanon to the forefront of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran being played out on battlefields from Syria to Yemen.

In their statement, the Lebanese Church officials said Cardinal Rai's visit was "an occasion to demand that Lebanon be removed from regional conflicts" as well as "to support the independence, sovereignty and stability of Lebanon" and for Lebanon to "remain in this eastern region as the land of cultural and religious pluralism and dialogue between Christianity and Islam". His wife and children have been living in Saudi Arabia for years.

Under Lebanon's power-sharing system, its president is a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of the House a Shiite Muslim.

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Rai is the second Christian patriarch to visit the country, after another such trip in 1975.

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