Aims of Zarif Visit to Lebanon Explained

Aims of Zarif Visit to Lebanon ExplainedAims of Zarif Visit to Lebanon Explained

The ambassador in Beirut explained the main purposes of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to Lebanon later this week, as part of his second round of a regional tour after Tehran reached a landmark nuclear deal with major powers in Vienna on July 14.

In an interview with ISNA on Sunday, Mohammad Fathali said Zarif will meet leading figures of Lebanon’s resistance and officials of the Arab country to exchange views on the nuclear agreement and discuss regional issues.

The two sides will explore avenues for seizing the opportunities created by the deal with a view to expanding bilateral ties, the envoy noted. Fathali rejected the idea that Zarif plans to mediate between Lebanese factions over the election of a new president, noting that that the issue is “an internal matter which needs to be solved by Lebanon’s political leaders taking account of their national interests.”  

There have been media speculations that some countries, including France, have asked Iran to help settle the dispute over the election of a president in Lebanon. Some media reports have even gone so far as to claim that Lebanon’s political crisis has been a major topic for discussion during the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’ Tehran visit in July.  The ambassador, however, stressed that the Islamic Republic “will not withdraw its assistance” for Lebanon. “Iran advocates dialogue and understanding among Lebanon’s domestic groups and factions.”

Fathali said Lebanon has great potential in the banking and tourism sectors, expressing hope that upon the lifting of sanctions under the nuclear agreement, the Arab country would act as a “significant regional partner” for Iran.   

Lebanese presidency has been vacant since May 2014, becasue lawmakers cannot agree on a candidate. The United Nations in May urged Lebanon’s feuding political leaders to pick a new president, warning that the country’s power vacuum had undermined its ability to deal with the impact of the Syrian crisis and a host of other problems, according to Reuters.