Naharnet

Larijani Tells Aoun Iran Ready to Help Lebanon Economically

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani held talks Monday with President Michel Aoun in Baabda and relayed to him a message from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Lebanon’s National News Agency said the message tackled “means to develop the Lebanese-Iranian relations and involved an invitation to President Aoun to visit Tehran.”

During the meeting, Larijani congratulated Aoun on the formation of the new government and wished it “success in enhancing stability and security in the country,” expressing Iran’s willingness to “help improve the economic situations in Lebanon.”

NNA said Aoun and Larijani also “evaluated the current regional situations and the developments of events in Syria and the region.”

“They also tackled the situations of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the need for their return to their country after stability and security returned to most Syrian regions,” the agency added.

The president also discussed with Larijani the situations in Iran, NNA said.

Larijani had arrived in Lebanon overnight for talks with the country’s top leaders.

The new Lebanese government was born after weeks of negotiations over its line-up, including with Iran-backed Hizbullah.

Tehran has already expressed willingness to assist Lebanon's economy, including by supporting the moribund electricity sector.

The lack of electricity and other basic services was one of the reasons why protesters of all ages, sects and regions took the streets in mid-October to demand the wholesale removal of a political elite they see as corrupt and incompetent.

Offers of support from Iran -- itself in a difficult economic situation due to Western sanctions -- are met with suspicion among Lebanon's deeply divided ruling class.

"Iran's cash can help resolve the crisis of a party but not that of a country," Saad Hariri, who resigned as prime minister under pressure from the street last year, said on Friday.

To rescue the country's economy, the new government has requested the advice of the International Monetary Fund on what measures to take.

The next major date in Lebanon's economic calendar is March 9, when a $1.2 billion Eurobond is due to mature.

Lebanon can either try to restructure its debt, repay the Eurobond -- but the cash-strapped state can scarcely afford to -- or default on its debt.

Source: Naharnet


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