Iran Ambassador Says Presidential Election a Local Issue

Iran's Ambassador to Beirut Mohammed Fathali has stressed that it was up to Lebanon's rival leaders to resolve the country's presidential deadlock.

“This is an internal Lebanese issue,” the diplomat told al-Akhbar newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

“All parties should take care of this issue because it is linked to the people's interest,” he said.

Fathali made the comment in response to a question on whether contacts have been made with Tehran with regards to Lebanon's presidential crisis.

Baabda Palace has been vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May last year.

Sources told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Thursday that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius urged his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani during talks they held a day earlier to try to resolve the presidential deadlock in Lebanon.

But the Iranian officials hinted that Tehran is not yet ready to use its influence in the region to interfere in the presidential crisis as long as the nuclear deal with Iran is still in its implementation stage, said the sources.

Fathali hoped that the deal signed between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — would help improve economic ties with Lebanon.

“Lebanon enjoys a wide banking sector,” said the diplomat, adding “Iran also enjoys diverse economic capabilities.”

The July 14 deal is meant to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

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