Egypt says date of Hariri's visit still undecided

Ahram Online and Reuters , Sunday 19 Nov 2017

File photo of a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Lebanon's Saad Hariri in Cairo (Photo: Egyptian presidential office)

Egypt denied late on Sunday that Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanese prime minister from Saudi Arabia on 4 November, will visit Cairo in the next couple of days to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Hariri's office said earlier in the day that the Lebanese premier would meet with Sisi on Tuesday, according to Reuters. 

Sisi is set to fly to Cyprus on Monday to participate in a tripartite summit between the two states and Greece.

"Reports that Hariri would meet the president tomorrow are impractical and unrealistic because the president will be in Cyprus tomorrow for two days," Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Rady said in a phone interview with satellite channel ONTV. 

"I officially deny that there is a visit or a meeting with the president tomorrow."

However, the spokesman said arrangements are being made for a visit by Hariri to Egypt but that no specific date has been decided yet. 

"We will soon release a statement ... and clarify all things," he added. 

Hariri has been in Paris since Saturday, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron, and has said he will return to Lebanon by Wednesday. 

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri's resignation until it is delivered in person and all sides in Beirut have called for his speedy return.

The resignation sparked a political crisis in Lebanon and put it on the front line of a regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hariri criticised Iran and its ally Hezbollah, a heavily armed grouping that is part of the Lebanese government, in his resignation statement, and said he feared assassination. Apart from a brief trip to Abu Dhabi, he remained in Saudi Arabia until he flew to France.

His stay in the kingdom led to accusations from Lebanese officials and politicians that Saudi Arabia had coerced him to resign, which he and Riyadh denied.

On Friday, Hariri tweeted that his presence there was for "consultations on the future of the situation in Lebanon and its relations with the surrounding Arab region".

On Sunday, Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo, requested by Saudi Arabia, to discuss ways to confront Iran and Hezbollah over their role in the region. Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil did not attend.

Short link: