World News

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he is Cairo-bound

Posted November 19, 2017 6:16 p.m. EST

— Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who recently resigned, plans to visit Cairo on Tuesday before what he says will be his eventual return to Lebanon.

Hariri unexpectedly quit two weeks ago during a trip to Saudi Arabia, saying he feared his life was in danger. The resignation sparked speculation he was being held hostage in Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, Hariri arrived in France, where he announced he would "be in Beirut in the next few days" to take part in independence day celebrations, which will happen on Wednesday. It's not clear when the prime minister would return to Lebanon.

Hariri's office announced the Cairo trip in a statement on Sunday. He is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, his office said.

Hariri's resignation announcement on television plunged Lebanon into a political crisis, stoking fears of conflict between the Saudi-backed faction of the country's government and Hezbollah, a powerful Iran-backed Shia militant group whose political wing is the most powerful bloc in Lebanon's fractured coalition government.

Lebanon President Michel Aoun later alleged Hariri was being "held captive in Saudi Arabia."

Speaking for the first time since his resignation, Hariri appeared last week on a Lebanese TV station he owns and pledged to soon return to Lebanon and "take all the necessary constitutional steps to resign." Lebanon has said it could not accept his resignation until the leader returned to the country.