ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran said on Monday that it does not interfere in Lebanon and that comments on Sunday by Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese prime minister nine days ago, gave hope he would soon return to his country, state TV reported.
The resignation of the Saudi-allied Hariri’s and its aftermath have put Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Shi‘ite-led Iran and its regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh blames Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah for the resignation, accusing it of hijacking Lebanese politics. Tehran has accused Riyadh and its allies of trying to stoke tension in the Middle East.
In a television interview on Sunday, Hariri said he would return to Lebanon within days and held out the possibility he could rescind his resignation if Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen. The comments were his first in public since he quit from Riyadh on Nov. 4.
“Hariri’s remarks on Sunday gave small hope of the possibility of his return to Lebanon...Iran does not interfere in Lebanon’s affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state TV.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun refused to accept Hariri’s resignation unless he tendered it in person in Lebanon.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Catherine Evans and Angus MacSwan