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Lebanon PM backs Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi case

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) seen here with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) at a dinner hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron on April 16, 2018 has backed the kingdom over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (AFP Photo/BANDAR AL-JALOUD)

Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon's premier-designate Saad Hariri threw his support behind Saudi Arabia Tuesday as it faces outrage over the murder of Saudi journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate.

Hariri's comments came less than a year after he resigned in mysterious circumstances in a televised address from the Saudi capital, sparking rumours he was being held there against his will.

"The measures taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi... come within the framework that serves the path of justice and the disclosure of the whole truth," a statement from his office quoted him as saying.

On Tuesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir pledged a "thorough and complete" investigation into Khashoggi's murder.

A tough critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to collect paperwork for his marriage.

A few days later, a Turkish government source said police believed he was murdered by a team sent to Istanbul, and on October 17, a Turkish newspaper said he was tortured and decapitated inside the consulate.

The case has tarnished the image of the crown prince, and caused policymakers and business titans to cancel their plannned attendance at a key investment forum that opened in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Hariri said the directives of "King Salman bin Abdulaziz would put things in the right direction and contribute to respond to the malicious campaigns targeting the kingdom", the statement said.

Turkey has said the murder of Khashoggi was "savagely planned", and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to reveal what he has said was the "naked truth" about the killing later Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia has long been a key ally of Hariri, while Riyadh's regional foe Iran backs Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

But in November last year, Hariri announced he was stepping down in a televised address from the Saudi capital, causing observers to speculate he was being held against his will.

After French mediation, he rescinded his resignation the following month, and Saudi Arabia has denied intimidating Hariri into quitting his post.

Hariri was named premier for a third term in May after Lebanon's first parliamentary elections in nine years, but has since struggled to form a cabinet.