Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's visit to Turkey comes months after the political crisis in Lebanon erupted, bookended by his resignation in Riyadh and his subsequent return to Lebanon.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri at a conference in Beirut, Lebanon January 19, 2017.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri at a conference in Beirut, Lebanon January 19, 2017. (Reuters)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri travelled to Turkey on Tuesday for an official two-day visit to meet his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.

This is his first visit abroad after weeks of political turmoil in Lebanon in November last year.

His visit comes less than three months after his resignation, announced while he was in Saudi Arabia for an official visit, in a televised address on November 4.

During his resignation speech, Hariri described Iran, Saudi Arabia's historical foe, as a threat to the peace in the Middle East. 

Top Lebanese officials and Iran claimed that the Saudis had forced Hariri to quit, then held him captive in the kingdom. Hariri and Riyadh have denied doing so. 

Two weeks after his resignation, Hariri had hinted his decision might be revoked, after a mediation attempt by French President Emmanuel Macron. On December 5, he rescinded his resignation, saying that all members of the government had agreed to stay out of conflicts in Arab countries.

Hariri, who holds dual Lebanese and Saudi citizenship, became Lebanon's prime minister in late 2016 after a political deal resulted in the inclusion of two Hezbollah members in the cabinet, and brought Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun to office as the country's president.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and its armed groups are politically dominant in Lebanon. 

Along with Saudi Arabia, Israel considers the group a terror organisation, and sees it as the biggest threat to its security.

Riyadh has had close ties to the Hariri family since the assassinated prime minister Rafik Hariri, father of Saad Hariri, first took the post in 1992.

What is Turkey's stance on the crisis?

Turkey hasn’t sided with any of the groups, but rather positioned itself as a supporter of stability in Lebanon.  

Following Hariri's resignation, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil visited Ankara and met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu for a rare trip abroad amid the crisis.

During the joint press conference on November 18, Cavusoglu said “We support Lebanon’s unity, integrity and stability, and we oppose any development that would risk Lebanon’s stability.”

He said Turkey wanted to help resolve the crisis since both countries had strengthened their economic and political ties. 

Tension rose between Ankara and Riyadh during the Gulf crisis which began in 2017, when Saudi-led Gulf countries imposed sanctions on Qatar accusing the country on its close ties with Iran and also with Hamas and Taliban. Turkey stood by its regional ally, Qatar. 

Ankara and Tehran, on the other hand, have been co-operating on resolving the Syrian crisis since the end of 2016. 

Hariri’s visit to Turkey marks his first trip to the country following the withdrawal of his resignation on December 5. He visited Egypt and France immediately after leaving Riyadh. 

Ties between Turkey and Lebanon are expected to be discussed during the meeting between Hariri and Yildirim, as well as regional and bilateral issues.