Nuclear Settlement Could Unlock Lebanon Crisis

Nuclear Settlement Could Unlock Lebanon Crisis
Nuclear Settlement Could Unlock Lebanon Crisis

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam believes a deal settling Iran's nuclear dispute could help pave the way toward ending the political deadlock that has left his country without a president since May.

The Mediterranean country of about 4 million has been hit hard by the war in its much larger neighbor Syria, with violence spilling across the border and threatening the fragile sectarian balance that has largely held since Lebanon's own 1975-90 civil war.

Lebanese politics - long seen as some of the Arab world's most democratic, despite their flaws - have largely ground to a halt as a result of tensions stoked by the Syrian conflict.

Lebanon has had no president since May because lawmakers divided between Shiite Muslim and Sunni-led blocs have been unable to agree on a replacement. This month parliament voted to extend its own term into 2017, forgoing scheduled elections.

Salam said resolving Lebanon's crisis would first require defusing regional tensions, possibly starting with a deal around Iran's nuclear program, followed by an eventual resolution of Syria's war.

"Everything is connected. If we are looking toward a solution for our presidency situation in Lebanon, we would also be looking for other solutions for the whole region," he said in an interview with Reuters published on Wednesday. "At the moment, unfortunately, there is nothing in light yet."  

Iran and the six major powers (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) are in talks to reach a long-term settlement to the dispute over Tehran's nuclear work by a November 24 deadline.