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Saudis Deny Forcing Lebanese Prime Minister To Resign, Blame Hizballah

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri

A top Saudi official rejected accusations by the pro-Iranian Hizballah movement that his government forced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to announce his resignation over the weekend.

"Talk about Hariri being pushed to resign are lies and aim at distracting the Lebanese people," Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan told Al-Arabiya television on November 6.

Hariri, Lebanon's most prominent Sunni politician, announced he was stepping down on November 4 while visiting his ally, Saudi Arabia, and lashed out at Hizballah and Iran.

On November 5, Hizballah's chief, Hassan Nasrallah, said the resignation was not prompted by the political situation in Lebanon and accused Riyadh of forcing Hariri to resign.

Sabhan responded by saying that Hizballah is the one that controls major decisions in Lebanon.

Hizballah is both a military and a political organization that is represented in the Lebanese parliament and in the Hariri-led coalition government formed last year.

"The Lebanese must choose between peace or aligning with Hizballah," Sabhan said.

Hariri flew to Saudi Arabia on November 3 after meeting in Beirut with a top adviser to Iran's supreme leader, who described his coalition government as "a victory" and "great success" afterwards.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters