Zarif to Visit Lebanon on Tuesday

Mohammad Javad ZarifMohammad Javad Zarif

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will arrive in the Lebanese capital Beirut for an official visit on Tuesday, a Lebanese news website reported.

The trip was first scheduled to be held earlier this year, but was postponed until after the election of the Lebanese president, Fars News Agency reported on Thursday, citing the Lebanese news website El Nashra.

The Lebanese Parliament elected former army commander, Michel Aoun, as president on Monday, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum.

Differences among Lebanese lawmakers had repeatedly prevented them from achieving consensus over selecting a president in the past two years. Aoun secured the presidency by winning the support of 83 MPs, well above the absolute majority of 65 needed to win.

It came as part of a political deal late last month between Aoun and prominent Sunni politician Saad al-Hariri to make the latter prime minister.

Aoun is the founder of Free Patriotic Movement and an ally of the Hezbollah political bloc, the rival of Hariri-led March 14 Alliance.

Hariri is the son of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister who was assassinated in a bombing in 2005 in Beirut.

Aoun asked Hariri on Thursday to form a new government as prime minister, after he secured the support of a majority of MPs.

Hariri was endorsed by 110 members of the 127-seat parliament on Thursday.

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.

The settlement of the long-running crisis has raised hopes for increased stability in the Arab country and its neighboring country, Syria, which in the past five years has been the scene of a standoff between the Syrian Army and foreign-backed militants fighting to bring down the government.


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