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France believes Lebanon's Hariri free of movements in Saudi, foreign minister says

  • France's ambassador to Saudi met Hariri on Thursday before President Emmanuel Macron's unscheduled visit to Riyadh to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, diplomats said
  • Paris has close ties with Lebanon, a former colony, and with Hariri, who has a home in France after spending several years in the country
Saad Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon and the leader of the Future Movement party, attends the '2nd General Assembly meeting of Future Movement party' in Beirut, Lebanon on November 26, 2016.
Ratib Al Safadi | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Saad Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon and the leader of the Future Movement party, attends the '2nd General Assembly meeting of Future Movement party' in Beirut, Lebanon on November 26, 2016.

France's foreign minister said on Friday he believed that former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri was not under house arrest in Saudi Arabia and did not have any particular constraints on his movements.

"As far as we know, yes. We think he is free of his movements and it's important he makes his own choices," Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.

France's ambassador to Saudi met Hariri on Thursday before President Emmanuel Macron's unscheduled visit to Riyadh to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, diplomats said. It was unclear whether Macron had any contact with Hariri during his stopover in the Saudi capital.

Paris has close ties with Lebanon, a former colony, and with Hariri, who has a home in France after spending several years in the country. Macron said in Dubai on Thursday there had been informal contacts with Hariri, but no request to transfer him to France.

"Our concern is the stability of Lebanon and that a political solution can be put in place rapidly," he added.

Two top Lebanese government officials said on Thursday that Riyadh was holding Lebanon's Saad al-Hariri captive and a third told Reuters that the Saudi authorities had ordered Hariri to resign while he was in Riyadh last weekend, and put him under house arrest.

Le Drian is due in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 16 and is scheduled to also travel to Iran later in the month.