Zarif Meets Aoun, Says President Election 'Victory for All Lebanese'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks Monday in Baabda with newly-elected President Michel Aoun as part of an official visit to Lebanon that will also include meetings with other top Lebanese officials.
“I seized this opportunity to extend the warmest congratulations to President Aoun on his assumption of the presidency, in my name and in the name of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and all Iranians,” Zarif said after the meeting at the Baabda Palace which was also attended by caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.
“We welcomed the fact that the presidential election in Lebanon was held without any foreign interference. Lebanon's success in holding the presidential vote after two and a half years of vacuum is a victory for all Lebanese,” Zarif underlined.
He said his visit is aimed at “developing and boosting bilateral ties at the political and economic levels.”
“Iran and Lebanon have two main enemies – the takfiri enemy and Israel – and this issue is an element for unity between Iran and Lebanon,” Zarif added.
“President Aoun's oath of office reflected his deep political vision that identified the risks that are threatening all countries in the region,” Iran's top diplomat went on to say.
Following talks with Bassil at the Foreign Ministry later in the day, Zarif thanked "the Lebanese state, especially the Foreign Ministry, over the brotherly support that it has showed for the Islamic Republic of Iran at all international forums."
Bassil for his part thanked Iran for "its support and assistance for Lebanon and for its repeated assertion that the domestic issues in Lebanon must be resolved among the Lebanese."
"Lebanon is facing two major threats -- the racist Israeli threat and the Daeshi (Islamic State group) threat. We thank Iran for its assistance in the resistance against Israel and for all the support it has offered to Lebanon," Bassil added.
"We have political ties with Iran that are being reflected at the international forums where we exchange political support... Lebanon and Iran share the same political stance on the region's crises, which is that they must resolved through political solutions," the caretaker FM added.
Zarif is accompanied by an Iranian delegation comprising around 45 economic and political figures, Lebanon's National News Agency said.
He is also scheduled to meet with Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Tammam Salam, PM-designate Saad Hariri and a number of officials and spiritual leaders, NNA said.
“My visit to Lebanon at the head of a political-economic delegation is aimed at planning for a better future in the ties between the two countries,” said Zarif upon his arrival at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport.
“We will stand today and tomorrow by Lebanon and we will seek to expand cooperation between the two countries,” he added.
“The resilience of Lebanon, its people and its resistance and the resilience of the peoples of the region will inflict an awful defeat on the terrorists and the extremists,” Zarif went on to say.
As Safir daily reported Monday that the Iranian minister would convey a congratulatory message to Aoun from the Iranian president.
The visit carries political significance seeing as Zarif is among the first foreign officials to visit Lebanon after Aoun's election, knowing that Rouhani was among the first leaders who congratulated Aoun on his election.
Furthermore, As Safir quoted unnamed diplomatic sources as saying that some international delegates are to visit Lebanon soon, including a high-ranking Chinese delegation.
Last week, Aoun, who is allied to Iran-backed Hizbullah, was elected as Lebanon's 13th president, which ended around two and a half years of presidential and political vacuum.
Hariri, who is close to Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia, was designated on Thursday to form a new cabinet.
Hariri's key endorsement and crucial support from Hizbullah and the Lebanese Forces had largely contributed to Aoun's election.
Hariri's nomination and Aoun's election have raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.