Iran Reaffirms Support for Lebanon’s Stability, Security

Iran hopes that the situation in Lebanon will not move toward further complication, violence and division, and revert to what prevailed before Hariri stepped down
Bahram QasemiBahram Qasemi

Iran reaffirmed backing for efforts to restore stability to Lebanon, which plunged into political crisis after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri fled to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, where he announced his resignation.

"We support any positive measure to help boost Lebanon's stability and security," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said in a weekly press conference on Monday, Fars News Agency reported.

In a TV interview on Sunday, his first public comments since he read out his resignation on television from Riyadh eight days earlier, Hariri said he would return to Lebanon within days to confirm he had resigned as the country's prime minister.

Qasemi welcomed Hariri's announcement, saying, "We hope that Hariri will return to Lebanon as soon as possible and will complete the legal procedure for his resignation. We also hope that the situation in Lebanon will not move toward further complication, violence and division and will revert to what prevailed before Hariri stepped down."

Top Lebanese government officials and sources close to Hariri believed that he was coerced by Saudis into resigning and was effectively put under house arrest.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun had also said ahead of Hariri's interview that his movements were being restricted in Saudi Arabia.

Hariri said he was a free man.

"I am freely in the [Saudi] kingdom, and if I want to travel tomorrow, I will travel," he said.

Aoun had refused to accept Hariri's resignation unless he submitted it in person in Lebanon.

Western countries, including the United States and France, have reiterated their longstanding policy of support for the Lebanese government since the Saudi declaration that the Beirut government was a hostile party, Reuters reported.

***Top Europe Officials to Visit

During his weekly briefing, Qasemi also dismissed Iranian media reports linking a visit by EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan with efforts to set up an EU office in Tehran.

The reports came out after the Saturday meeting between Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri and Hogan, who was in Tehran at the head of a high-ranking 70-strong EU delegation.

The spokesman said the decision regarding the establishment of the EU mission is outside the purview of the Foreign Ministry and would be subject to the approval of the Supreme National Security Council.

Qasemi confirmed the news of forthcoming visits by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as well as Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Yves Le Drian, president and foreign minister of France respectively.

"Johnson's visit will happen by the end of 2017. The timing of Macron's trip is being discussed. Most probably, it would happen after Drian's trip," Qasemi said.

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