Iran FM meets Lebanon’s heavyweights

May 27, 2008

BEIRUT – Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has held talks in Beirut with Lebanon’s political heavyweights, including parliament majority leader Saad Hariri, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Mottaki traveled to Lebanon to welcome the election of former army chief Michel Suleiman as president.
In a meeting with Saad Hariri on Monday, Mottaki called the election of Suleiman a “great achievement” for the Lebanese people.
Hariri said the Lebanese people finally succeeded in achieving their main goal of the day, i.e., electing a president.
Mottaki praised the rival Lebanese groups for their prompt implementation of the Doha agreement, saying, “You implemented the Doha agreement very quickly.”
The Doha agreement defused a crisis that had caused the worst civil strife since Lebanon’s 1975-1990 war.
Hariri said, “We have always sought to establish security in Lebanon, and immediately after returning from Doha, we made efforts to implement the agreement.”
The Iranian foreign minister said, “Sunday was a great day for all Lebanese people… and I see this happiness on the faces of all Lebanese.”
Suleiman, who was elected by parliament on Sunday, moved into the presidential palace on Monday, taking up an official residence that has stood empty since November because of the crisis.
A military band played the national anthem as Suleiman, who headed the army for a decade, walked on a red carpet into the Baabda Palace, which has been empty since Emile Lahoud, a close ally of Syria, left office.
------Lebanon PM seeks support for Doha deal
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora thanked Iran for playing a leading role in settling the political standoff in Lebanon.
In his meeting with Mottaki, Siniora referred to the bitter political disputes in his country over the past 18 months and called on all countries to support Lebanon in its implementation of the Doha agreement.
Mottaki said Iran and Arab countries share common interests.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has close ties with Arab countries, and our interests have been intertwined with theirs,” he opined.
Mottaki said Iran made the utmost efforts to broker a national unity agreement for Lebanon, which finally bore fruit in the form of the Doha deal.
-------Mottaki praises Nabih Berri’s efforts
Mottaki thanked Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for his efficient management of the talks over the past 18 months and his positive role in bringing about the success of the Doha talks.
Berri also commended Iran for the special role it played in resolving the Lebanon crisis.
Mottaki expressed hope that parliamentary cooperation between Iran and Lebanon would increase as a result of the new agreement.
----------Lebanon to pick new PM
Lebanon’s parliamentary majority bloc was expected on Monday to choose a prime minister to head a new cabinet that will be formed as part of the Doha agreement, politicians said.
The majority was expected to nominate its leader, Hariri, or Siniora, the existing prime minister, to lead the new cabinet.
President Michel Suleiman will formally appoint the candidate named by most lawmakers. He will officially consult all MPs on Tuesday.
Under Lebanon’s complex power-sharing system, the president is always a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of parliament a Shia Muslim