Lebanon’s prime minister has met with Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince during his first trip to the kingdom since relations strained following Saad Hariri’s brief resignation late last year.
Hariri posted a selfie with Mohammed bin Salman and the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States following their meeting in Riyadh late Friday at the end of a three-day visit. The three appeared in informal clothes and flashed wide smiles, apparently signaling relations have been normalized following the bizarre sequence of events revolving Hariri’s resignation.
Hariri’s resignation, announced while he was in Riyadh, was widely seen as orchestrated by his Saudi backers who complain that the Lebanese government is controlled by the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group. Hariri reversed his resignation upon return to Lebanon following international mediation.
Multiple Lebanese sources say Riyadh hopes to replace Saad Hariri with his older brother Bahaa as Lebanon’s top Sunni politician. Bahaa is believed to be in Saudi Arabia and members of the Hariri family have been asked to travel there to pledge allegiance to him, but have refused, the sources say.