UN Official, Deputy FM Discuss Lebanon, Region

Hossein Jaberi AnsariHossein Jaberi Ansari

The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag and Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari discussed efforts to help resolve Lebanon's presidential crisis and regional conflicts.

Speaking in the meeting in Tehran on Tuesday, Ansari reiterated Iran's principled stance of supporting stability in Lebanon, IRNA reported.

Ansari said Lebanese political groups have an essential role in settling the presidential problem in the country, and external players should support and strengthen domestic political agreements in the country.

Lebanon has had no president since the end of the six-year term of former president, Michel Sleiman, in May 2014, as disagreements in the Lebanese Parliament have resulted in its failure to pick a new president.

The power vacuum is considered the longest since 1990, which marked the end of Lebanon's civil war.

Under Lebanon's power-sharing system, the president must be a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shia Muslim.

Ansari said crises in the region, including that of Syria, do not stem from sectarian or religious differences and are merely political conflicts, so they can only be solved through political dialogue.

"Sectarian policies, if continued [by certain countries] in the region, will create unsolvable contradictions and this means the elimination of possibilities for ending regional conflicts," he said.

***Strategic Mistake

The deputy foreign minister said some countries have a wrong understanding about regional crises and try to use terrorist groups as a tool to advance their agenda.

"Using extremist and terrorist groups may have tactical, short-term benefits for these players, but it is a big strategic mistake that would harm them in the mid- and long-term," he said.

The Syrian conflict, since it erupted in 2011, has pitted the Syrian Army against foreign-backed militants fighting to overthrow the government.

Some regional states and western powers, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the US, are supporting militants and insist the Syrian leadership should be changed, while Syria's allies, Iran and Russia, are assisting the Syrian forces in their anti-terror battle, saying that only the Syrian people can decide the future of their country.

Kaag said despite the fact that Lebanon has been affected by regional conflicts and domestic differences, it enjoys good security and efforts by political parties in Lebanon can help further improve its stability.

The UN official said Lebanon's problems have been intensified by unpleasant regional developments, including those in neighboring Syria, stressing the need for a quick political settlement of the Syrian conflict.

Kaag also met Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi on Tuesday. She concluded a two-day trip to Iran on the same day.

The visit was part of the special coordinator's ongoing consultations with key regional and international players on Lebanon's stability and security.

The UN official will later visit Saudi Arabia and Russia to help Lebanon.


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