Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday denied French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments that Lebanon’s Prime Minster Saad Al-Hariri was held captive in Riyadh in November last year, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Saudi Arabia “was and still supports the stability and security of Lebanon,” emphasising that Macron’s claims of Saudi Arabia detaining Al-Hariri are incorrect.
He further said, “all evidences have confirmed that who draws Lebanon and the region to instability is Iran and its tools, such as Hezbollah terrorist militia,” adding that the movement was “involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and killing two French citizens in Lebanon.”
Last week, Macron claimed in an interview with BFM TV that without France’s efforts, Lebanon could have gone through a war over “holding” Al-Hariri for two weeks in Riyadh after he announced his resignation.
“I remind you that a prime minister was held in Saudi Arabia for several weeks,” he said.
Macron claimed credit for solving the political crisis that erupted between the two Arab countries. “If France wasn’t listened to then, there probably would be a war in Lebanon at this moment as we speak,” said Macron, adding, “it’s French diplomacy, it’s our action.”
In November last year, Al-Hariri abruptly resigned as prime minster while on a visit to Saudi Arabia, saying that he feared for his life and accusing Iran and Hezbollah of sowing “fear and destruction” in several countries, including Lebanon. Lebanese politicians from different parties, including Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, held Riyadh responsible for Al-Hariri’s resignation, accusing the kingdom of holding him hostage. However, Al-Hariri denied that there were any restrictions on his movements.
In order to prevent escalation, Macron intervened, inviting Al-Hariri and his family to visit France as part of efforts to defuse the tensions, after he paid a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia to tackle the issue with Saudi politicians.