Zarif holds talks with Michel Aoun

November 8, 2016

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who made a high-profile visit to Beirut starting on Monday held talks with the newly-elected Lebanese President Michel Aoun as well as the prime minister, parliament Speaker, and Hezbollah chief.

The visit came days after Aoun was elected president. The post had remained vacant for 29 months due to rivalry between powerbrokers in Lebanon.

Immediately after his arrival in Beirut, Foreign Minister Zarif held talks with President Aoun.

“I seized this opportunity to extend the warmest congratulations to President Aoun on his assumption of the presidency, in my name and in the name of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and all Iranians,” Zarif said after his meeting with Aoun at the Baabda Palace.

Zarif stressed that his visit was aimed at boosting bilateral ties at political and economic levels.

The foreign minister was accompanied by a large delegation comprising of around 45 economic and political magnates.

Zarif reviews regional developments with Hariri, Berri, and Nasrallah 

On Tuesday, Zarif also held talks with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabi Berri, and Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

After a meeting with Hariri in Beirut on Tuesday, Zarif told reporters that the Islamic Republic is ready to cooperate with Lebanon on ways to counter the Israeli regime and extremism as common threats to Tehran and Beirut in the region.

He underlined that in his meeting with Hariri, the two sides discussed the situation in the Middle East and exchanged views on further developing ties after the election of the president.

The Iranian foreign minister and Berri also reviewed events in Lebanon, regional developments, specifically the Syrian conflict, and ways to expand bilateral relations.

Zarif and the Hezbollah chief exchanged views on the recent political developments in Lebanon and the region.

During a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil on Monday, Zarif emphasized that Iran would be happy to host the new Lebanese president “at any time”.

‘Israel, Daesh are main threats to Lebanon’

The chief Iranian diplomat also warned of the danger of the Zionist regime, saying it is a threat to peace and security in Lebanon in particular and the entire world in general.

He further described the danger of Takfiri terrorism as a pervasive threat to not only Syria and Lebanon, but also the whole world.

Zarif also expressed hopes that the Saudis stop their narrow-minded policies and help in the fight against Takfiri terrorism.

“We hope that the Saudi authorities swiftly put away their narrow-minded policies and help to put out the fire of Takfiri terrorism in this region,” Press TV quoted him as saying. 

Bassil, for his part, thanked Iran for its support and its repeated assertion that the domestic disputes in Lebanon must be resolved by the Lebanese themselves.

Foreign Minister Bassil also said Lebanon is facing two major threats: one by the “racist” Israeli regime and the other by Daesh.

Bassil added, “We thank Iran for its assistance in the resistance against Israel and for all the support it has offered to Lebanon.” 

Both Tehran and Beirut regard Zarif’s visit as a very important episode in their relations. The Islamic Republic welcomed the election of Aoun as a victory for the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.

The Iranian president was among the first leaders who congratulated Aoun. Also, Zarif became the first foreign minister to meet Lebanon’s new president.

Moreover, Zarif met with Lebanon-based Iranian officials and their families in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday.

During the meeting, Zarif said that the domestic consensus in Lebanon has led to considerable success not just for one group but for all of the Lebanese.

He also commended Hezbollah, describing it as “a source of pride” for the entire Muslim world.

MH/PA

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