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The Latest: Germany urges Saudis, Iran not to weaken Lebanon

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The Latest: Germany urges Saudis, Iran not to weaken Lebanon

The Associated Press
In this Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, photo released by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with French President Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

The Latest on developments surrounding Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri who resigned from Riyadh last week and the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

Germany is calling on Saudi Arabia and Iran not to undermine Lebanon's stability following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called his Saudi counterpart Thursday to highlight the need to safeguard Lebanon's stability.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Friday that when discussing Lebanon "it's also necessary to talk about the role of Iran."

Seibert noted that Tehran has influence over Hezbollah and its support for the Shiite militia is viewed by Germany "with great concern."

He said that Germany "of course appeals to both countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, not to weaken the political stability in Lebanon."

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1:50 p.m.

A French official says that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has told foreign ambassadors that he is not a prisoner in Saudi Arabia, where he has been holed up since an unusual resignation announcement.

An official in French President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Friday that the French and U.S. ambassadors in Saudi Arabia met with Hariri, and that Hariri "says he is not a prisoner, the (Saudi crown) prince says he is not a prisoner."

Macron paid a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday night and met with the crown prince, notably about rising tensions in Lebanon, a former French protectorate.

The official said Hariri did not ask to see Macron during the visit and that French officials "don't have any specific signs" that the Lebanese prime minister's life is in danger.

The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to presidential policy.

—Sylvie Corbet in Paris

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12:50 p.m.

A senior Lebanese official says Beirut has formally told Saudi Arabia that the way Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned — in a televised statement from Riyadh — is "unacceptable" and requested his return to the country.

The official says the Lebanese position was conveyed by President Michel Aoun to the Saudi charge d'affaires in Lebanon, Walid al-Bukhari, at the presidential palace on Friday.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Aoun was meeting with foreign ambassadors to discuss Hariri's abrupt resignation last Saturday. Hariri, who cited Iran's meddling in the region, has not returned to Lebanon since.

The resignation has thrown the tiny nation in turmoil and officials have demanded his return, suspecting he is being held in the Saudi capital against his will.

—Zeina Karam in Beirut.

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12:35 p.m.

Scores of citizens from Gulf Arab countries have started leaving Lebanon after their governments ordered them out of the Mediterranean country amid a major Riyadh-Beirut crisis.

Dozens of men and women from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain were seen leaving Lebanon on Friday morning through Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates have ordered their citizens to leave Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri shocked his country Saturday when he announced in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia that he was resigning. The unexpected move led to rumors that he is being held in Saudi Arabia against his will.

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11:10 a.m.

France's foreign minister says French authorities believe Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri is "free in his movements" and not in custody in Saudi Arabia.

Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe-1 radio on Friday that "to our knowledge" Hariri is not being held by Saudi authorities. Hariri abruptly announced his resignation last week in a television appearance from Saudi Arabia, and has not returned to his country since.

Le Drian said Hariri traveled from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates and back earlier this week "so we think he is free in his movements, and it is up to him to make his choices."

Le Drian's office wouldn't say where the French information came from.

French President Emmanuel Macron discussed Lebanon, a former French protectorate, during a surprise visit Thursday to Riyadh.

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