Riyadh isn’t involved in gov’t talks: Lebanon’s Hariri

By Wasim Saif al-Din

BEIRUT (AA) – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday denied any Saudi involvement in ongoing consultations over the composition of the country’s next government.

In a statement issued by his office, Hariri said: “The main thing Saudi Arabia wants is that the government be drawn up as soon as possible with a view to supporting Lebanon and its economy.”

Saudi Arabia, he added, “did not — and would not — interfere in the process of forming the government, as this is an exclusively Lebanese affair”.

The statement went on to describe Hariri’s relationship with the Saudi leadership — and with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in particular — as “excellent” and “brotherly”.

After parliamentary polls were held in May, Lebanese President Michel Aoun tasked Hariri — Lebanon’s acting premier at the time — with drawing up the country’s next government.

Since then, Lebanon’s main political parties and forces have remained in close consultations with a view to reaching agreement over the composition of the country’s incoming Cabinet.

Saudi Arabia, for its part, accuses Lebanon’s Hezbollah — which is represented in Hariri’s government — of serving as a proxy force for Iran, Riyadh’s arch-foe in the region.