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Lebanese Leader Says Will Resign Unless Hezbollah Withdraws From Conflicts

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri (file photo)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has threatened to resign unless Iranian ally Hezbollah accepts Lebanon's policy of neutrality and stays out of regional conflicts.

Hezbollah, which forms part of the governing coalition in Lebanon, has openly fought for years alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his six-year civil war against Sunni rebels, and it has also recently put fighters in Iraq to help battle the Islamic State extremist group.

Persian Gulf monarchies also accuse the Shi'ite militia group of supporting Yemen's Shi'ite Huthi rebels as well as backing Shi'ite militants in Bahrain -- charges that Hezbollah denies.

"I don't want a political party in my government that interferes in Arab countries against other Arab countries," Hariri said in an interview with French broadcaster CNews.

"I am waiting for the neutrality which we agreed on in the government," he said. "One can't say one thing and do something else."

Hariri said he was ready to stay on as prime minister if Hezbollah accepted neutrality, but he would leave if it did not.

Hariri shocked Lebanon on November 4 by resigning from his post as he visited Saudi Arabia. But Lebanon's other political leaders refused to accept his resignation, and he later agreed to return home and negotiate changes with them.

"Lebanon cannot resolve a question like Hezbollah, which is in Syria, Iraq, everywhere because of Iran," Hariri told French TV.

"The interference of Iran affects us all. If we want a policy that is good for the region we shouldn't be interfering," he said. "It is a regional political solution that needs to be done."

Iran has for years sided with Syria's Assad and also supports Yemen's Huthi rebels, although it denies arming them. Tehran's chief regional rival, Saudi Arabia, backs Sunni forces engaged in the conflicts in both countries.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters