Saudi King hosts Lebanese PM Saad Hariri after shock resignation

King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (left) greets former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh, on Nov 6, 2017.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (left) greets former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh, on Nov 6, 2017.PHOTO: AFP / SAUDI ROYAL PALACE / BANDAR AL-JALOUD

RIYADH (AFP, REUTERS) - Saudi King Salman met on Monday (Nov 6) with former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, less than 48 hours after he resigned as premier in a televised address from Riyadh.

During the meeting, "they reviewed the situation in Lebanon", said the state-run agency Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi interior minister, foreign minister and minister of state for Arab and Gulf affairs were also in attendance.

Hariri, a protege of Riyadh, on Saturday announced his surprise resignation in a broadcast from the Saudi capital.

He cited the "grip" of the Iran-backed Shi'ite movement Hezbollah on Lebanon, and also said he feared for his life.

The resignation stunned Beirut's political establishment, brought down the coalition government and sparked a new political crisis. It has thrust Lebanon into the front line of the regional rivalry between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Muslim Iran that has also buffeted Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.

The move also came amid a round up of royals, ministers and businessmen in Saudi Arabia.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah questioned the timing of Hariri's announcement when "things are proceeding normally... in the heart of government" in Lebanon.

He said Hariri's resignation had been "imposed" by Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon's president on Monday stressed that stability is "a red line" after Hariri's shock resignation, Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said on Monday after meeting the president.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun convened a meeting with ministers and top security officials at the Baabda palace on Monday to assess the security situation. Aoun told them political leaders had been responsive to calls for calm, strengthening security and national unity, his office said.

The president will take no steps regarding the prime minister's resignation before Hariri returns from abroad, the justice minister said at a press conference after the meeting.

Aoun said security, economic, financial, and political stability is "a red line", Jreissati said.

"The president is waiting for Hariri's return to hear from him personally. This indicates a sovereign vision...and that the resignation must be voluntary in every sense." Aoun was also set to meet the finance minister and central bank governor later on Monday.