Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave his first television interview from Saudi Arabia and refuted the claims that he had been kidnapped by the conservative kingdom and forced into publicly resigning. “I always tell the truth, I am proud of what I did and do not take it back.” He added that “Hezbollah must not be allowed to destroy Lebanon.”

Hariri gives first interview post-resignation

Hariri gives first interview post-resignation Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

For the first time since announcing his resignation, Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave an interview with the Lebanese Television Network. “For the arrangement (with Hezbollah) to be successful, we would all have to act in Lebanon’s best interest,” Hariri said. “Hezbollah must not be allowed to destroy Lebanon.”

Hariri promised that he would be returning to Lebanon soon in order to make his resignation official. “My resignation does not legally come into effect until I deliver the letter of resignation to the president in Beirut,” he said. “Very soon I will come to Beirut to carry out this move.”

Yesterday, Reuters revealed the events leading up to his resignation; according to the report, during his stay in Saudi Arabia, Hariri was invited over the phone to attend a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. When he landed in Riyadh, however, no official was waiting for him at the airport and after a short while his phone was confiscated. A few hours later, Hariri was apparently presented with a resignation speech that he was forced to read for a Saudi television network. Saudi officials denied claims that Hariri was forced to make the statement.

“From the moment he arrived they shower no respect for the man,” a senior Lebanese political source told Reuters. “When Hariri’s plane landed in Riyadh, he got the message immediately that something was wrong.”

“What happened in those meetings, I believe, is that (Hariri) revealed his position on how to deal with Hezbollah in Lebanon: that confrontation would destabilize the country,” another Lebanese source said. “I think they didn’t like what they heard.”