Lebanese President Michel Aoun has asked Saad al-Hariri, a prominent Sunni politician, to form a new government as prime minister after he secured the support of a majority of MPs, according to a presidential statement.

Hariri was endorsed by 110 members of the 127-seat parliament on Thursday, with only Hezbollah, the Syrian Social National Party and the Lebanese Baath party - all supporters of Syria's government - declining to back him as prime minister.

Hezbollah is an armed Shia group which also has representation in parliament.

But his return was assured as part of the deal he struck to throw his support behind former general Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally.

Nabih Berri, the parliament speaker, indicated on Thursday that he was ready to cooperate in efforts to set up a new government led by Hariri, softening earlier objections that threatened to hold up its formation.

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Berri, head of the Shia Amal, is one of the most influential figures in Lebanon and his previous opposition to the deal that saw Aoun elected head of state this week was seen as an obstacle to forming the new government.

Berri formally announced his support for Hariri's candidacy in a meeting with Aoun at the presidential palace.

Asked by a journalist if he intended to cooperate in the formation of the new government, he said: "If there was no intention to cooperate, we would not have named him".

Hariri is the son of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister who was assassinated in a seaside bombing in 2005 in Beirut.

Source: Agencies