An Iranian official said on Tuesday Tehran hoped Saad al-Hariri would remain as Lebanon’s prime minister and denied Hariri had resigned after a tense meeting with him in Beirut.
“Hariri claims that in our meeting he asked Iran to stop interfering in the Lebanese affairs, but he did not say such a thing,” Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying by Iranian state television’s website.
“Our meeting was not tense or violent at all. These are all lies,” he said.
Velayati accused Saudi Arabia of fanning the flames of tension as it “could not tolerate the strategic friendship” between Tehran and Beirut.
Velayati said Hariri in their meeting offered to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia and he welcomed the offer.
Velayati said Tehran hoped Hariri would return to Lebanon and continue as prime minister “if Lebanese laws allow”.
In a television interview on Sunday, Hariri said he would return to his country within days and held out the possibility he could rescind his resignation if Iran-backed Hezbollah agreed to stay out of regional conflicts such as Yemen.
He said he had “talked about the unacceptable Iranian interference in Arab countries” with Velayati in Beirut.
“We cannot continue while Iran and a political party are interfering,” Hariri said, in his first public comments since his resignation.
Later, Hariri's media office refuted the Iranian official's allegations, saying that the Lebanese PM did not offer to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran.