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  1. ITV Report

Lebanon's PM says he is not being held by Saudi Arabia and vows to return 'very soon'

Saad Hariri insisted that he chose to quit of his own free will. Credit: AP

Lebanon's Prime Minister has said he is not being held against his will and plans to return to his country "very soon", in his first televised interview since he resigned in Saudi Arabia last week.

Saad Hariri denied reports that he was forced to quit in his first public comments since he dramatically resigned last week.

"I am free," Mr Hariri said in an emotional interview broadcast to the Lebanese station Future TV.

He said he would return to Lebanon "very soon", adding it would be ''in days".

Lebanese woman calls for Mr Hariri to return from Saudi Arabia. Credit: AP

Dual Lebanese-Saudi national Mr Hariri announced his resignation in a pre-recorded clip broadcast on Saudi Arabian television last week which said he feared for his safety.

It has prompted speculation that he was forced to stand down by Saudi authorities as a result of his unwillingness to confront the Iranian-linked Hezbollah militant group, which is fiercely opposed by the Saudis.

Lebanese officials have said his resignation was not accepted because it was declared in Saudi Arabia.

In Sunday's interview, Mr Hariri said his resignation was his decision, dismissing reports he was forced to quit a unity government with his political rivals Hezbollah.

Mr Hariri said he quit to save the country from imminent danger, but did not elaborate on what the details might be.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said Mr Hariri was forced to resign. Credit: AP

The Prime Minister acknowledged that his message had been unconventional, he said that he had hoped it would "cause a positive shock" in the country.

Mr Hariri said he "can't be the only one making concessions while the others do whatever they want", warning against Iranian interference that he said was ruining relations with other Arab countries.

Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah has been among those claiming Mr Hariri was forced to resign in an an act intended to destabilise Lebanon.

The incident has also lead the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to warn against the Middle East against using Lebanon as "a venue for proxy conflicts".

Boris Johnson urged the return of Me Hariri 'without delay'. Credit: PA

The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the UK offered its " full support for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon" and he hoped Mr Hariri would return "without further delay".

He added: "We echo the concerns of the United States and our European partners that Lebanon should not be used as a tool for proxy conflicts, and that its independence and integrity should be respected by all parties - within the country and beyond."