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NOW

Lebanon leaders
hail Hariri’s return

Saad Hariri in Beirut. (Dalati & Nohra)

BEIRUT – Top politicians from across Lebanon’s political spectrum hailed Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri’s return to the country after a three-year absence.

 

Following his arrival, Hariri received a call from Amal Movement leader and Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri “congratulating him on his safe return to Beirut,” according to a statement from Hariri’s press office.

 

Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said he believed Hariri’s return would bring about a “great change” and reinvigorate the March 14 alliance.

 

“We are at the [beginning] of a new era and no one can assume that [Hariri’s] return will not change anything. On the contrary, I believe that… there will be a great change,” Geagea told local broadcaster Future TV.

 

“Work in [the] March 14 [alliance] will become more active [thanks to] Hariri’s return and matters will not remain as they were during his absence.”

 

Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel hailed Hariri’s return as “a very important signal [that will] contribute to dealing with current conditions and completing the presidential elections,” in an interview with Future TV.

 

“The Lebanese people have missed Hariri, and in this period in particular we need humane energy.”

 

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros al-Rai said he hoped Hariri’s return “would act as a motive for the combination of all good efforts to push forward [and] get out of the socio-political crisis in Lebanon,” during a meeting with Future bloc MP Ahmad Fatfat.

 

For his part, Fatfat told the press that “[Hariri’s] presence here, close to events, is important for the Future Movement and [the] March 14 [alliance].”

 

He added that he does not “believe Hariri’s return is linked to the presidential elections,” saying that “[Hariri] has always been prepared to come” as long as “there is a national consensus [on the identity of the country’s next president]."

 

Hariri made a surprise return to Lebanon earlier in the day from Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah, where days before he gave a press conference touting the new $1 billion grant from Riyadh to Lebanon’s army to fight Islamists.

 

Upon his arrival in Lebanon’s capital, Hariri traveled to his father’s tomb in Downtown Beirut, after which he headed to the Grand Serail, where he met with Salam.

 

During their hour-long meeting, the two leaders discussed the latest security developments in Arsal, where Syrian militants launched a four day-assault that left at least 15 Lebanese soldiers dead before withdrawing with hostages on Thursday, Lebanon’s state National News Agency reported.

 

Hariri, who is acting as the pointman regarding the Saudi military grant, agreed with Salam to complete discussions of executive procedures regarding the aid within the necessary legal framework.

Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri in Beirut on Friday. (Dalati & Nohra)

On the contrary, I believe that… there will be a great change.