Lebanon marathon runners race in solidarity for Hariri

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun refused to accept Hariri's resignation unless he tendered it in person in Lebanon. But on Monday, Mr Aoun appeared to moderate his stance, saying Mr Hariri's remarks proved the consensus government he had presided over during the previous year could remain in place, according to Reuters.

Last week he resigned as premier in a televised address broadcast from Saudi Arabia by the Al-Arabiya news network amid reports that he is being held against his will in Riyadh.

Lebanon President Michel Aoun said before the interview that the "mysterious circumstances for Hariri's stay in the Saudi capital of Riaydh makes all his positions questionable and in doubt and not of his own volition".

The comments came in Hariri's first TV interview since announcing his resignation.

But Lebanese officials fear that during that meeting, Harari failed to take a hard enough stance against Hezbollah, the Shia Islamist group hated by Saudi Arabia - and included in Lebanon's coalition government.

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This article has been adapted from its original source.

On his last trip to Saudi Arabia, just a few days before, Hariri had met with senior Saudi intelligence at the behest of the king's son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is widely regarded as the true power behind the throne.

Hezbollah has expanded its political role in the complex Lebanese coalition during Hariri's 11 months in office.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Saturday that Washington calls upon "all states and parties to respect Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, and constitutional processes".

When he resigned on November 4, he said he feared assassination.

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While Mr Hariri's speech may have been encouraging in so far as offering a way out of Lebanon's current political crisis, many observers remarked that he still appeared to be more a mouthpiece for Saudi policy rather than someone speaking on his own behalf.

The resignation of the Saudi-allied Hariri's and its aftermath have put Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Shi'ite-led Iran and its regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.

Mr Hariri said he "can't be the only one making concessions while the others do whatever they want".

"I guess what the Saudis really want are assurances that Hizbollah isn't active in Yemen", said Amal Saad, a political science professor at Lebanese University.

Ms Saad said she was optimistic that the crisis could be resolved.

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El-Rai heads the Maronite sect, Lebanon's biggest Christian community and the Middle East's largest Catholic church that enjoys wide influence in the country.

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