Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is being "held captive" in Saudi Arabia in violation of diplomatic protocol, Lebanon's President said Wednesday.
"Resignation of Mr. Hariri is an internal issue and we hope that he would return to Lebanon and the Lebanese people decide in this respect", said Velayati who was Iran's foreign minister from 1981 to 1997.
Earlier in the day, Hariri, who has remained in Saudi Arabia since his abrupt resignation on November 4, tweeted that he was "fine", adding he planned to return to Lebanon.
The Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement, an Iranian proxy that Riyadh considers a terrorist group, is part of the coalition government that Hariri formed past year. He has not returned to Lebanon since, and the Lebanese president has refused to accept his resignation before he returns to the country to explain the circumstances of his decision.
France, Lebanon's onetime colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate in the crisis, and Macron paid a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia last week.
"What's at stake is Mr Hariri being able to return home freely to clarify his situation in line with the Lebanese constitution", French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told parliament in Paris.
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"We can not continue while Iran and a political party are interfering", Hariri said, in his first public comments since his resignation.
"After speaking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri the president has invited Saad al-Hariri and his family to France", the Elysee said.
The head of Future TV, affiliated with Hariri's party, said the prime minister is expected back before Sunday, when Arab foreign ministers meet in Cairo in an emergency session at Saudi Arabia's urging.
His statement said the Hariri family has always stood for the principles that make Lebanon unique in the world, including its mosaic of different political backgrounds.
On Twitter, Hariri said he was well but that his family was staying in Saudi Arabia.
According to the president, it is not possible to make a decision about a resignation filed from overseas. His comments reflect the views of some politicians in Lebanon's divided Maronite community but not President Aoun.