Lebanon FM vows response to foreign interference

Press TV – Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says his country’s sovereignty is not for sale, vowing response to any attempts at outside interference, Russia’s RIA news agency reports.

He made his comments in Moscow on Friday in relation to the ongoing chaos in Lebanon created after Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, earlier this month.

Hariri announced his resignation on November 4, citing several reasons, including the security situation in Lebanon, for his sudden decision. He also said that he realized a plot being hatched against his life.

Hariri also accused Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, of meddling in the Arab countries’ affairs; an allegation the two have rejected.

A poster depicting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri is seen in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 17, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Bassil expressed hope that Hariri would return to Beirut after he ends his visit to France, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron invited Hariri and his family to France, apparently as a way-out for him to leave Saudi Arabia amid reports that the Riyadh regime is holding the prime minister against his will.

Bassil further said Hariri can return to Beirut without any conditions or restrictions on his freedom, adding he can decide whether to step down as the prime minister once back in Lebanon.

The top Lebanese diplomat emphasized that Hariri should still be considered as the country’s serving prime minister.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Bassil as saying on Friday that some forces were trying to oust the country’s leader.

“Some sides are trying to use certain forces in order to displace the leader of Lebanon,” Bassil said in a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

He added that a “campaign to intimidate Lebanon” had been launched and hoped Moscow would intensify its efforts aimed at “providing a balance of forces” in the region.

The foreign minister said Russia has always played a “great role” in the fight against terrorism and the de-escalation of conflicts.

Lebanon should solve problems free from foreign interference: Lavrov

Lavrov, for his part, urged Lebanon to resolve problems through dialogue and without external interference.

“And the most important thing, we support the resolution of all urgent issues by the Lebanese themselves without any external interference through dialogue in the legal field taking into account the interests of all leading political forces as well as ethnic and religious groups,” Lavrov said in the meeting with his Lebanese counterpart.

He also emphasized that his country backs Lebanon’s sovereignty.

“Russia has consistently supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon. We are interested in Lebanon being safe and functioning effectively with the participation of all branches of power and all the governmental structures,” he said.

Hariri rejects detention ‘rumors’

The Lebanese premier in a tweet on Friday dismissed as “rumors” the reports about his detention in Saudi Arabia.

Hariri said he has stayed in Saudi Arabia to consult about Lebanon’s future and its relations with the region.

He also said “stories” about his family in Saudi Arabia are only “rumors.” Lebanese President Michel Aoun had previously said that Lebanon is in possession of reliable intelligence that that Hariri’s family were also detained in their house in Saudi Arabia.