News ID: 238724
Published: 0340 GMT February 11, 2019
Lebanon to boycott Warsaw conference on Mideast, Iran

Zarif holds talks with Lebanese officials, offers support for new government

Zarif holds talks with Lebanese officials, offers support for new government
Dalati Nohra/The Daily Star
Lebanese President Michel Aoun (R) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Feb. 11, 2019.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on his two-day visit to Lebanon, met with President Michel Aoun and Lebanese officials, as he expressed Tehran’s preparedness to cooperate with Beirut in any way possible.

During the meeting with Aoun at the Baabda Palace on Monday, the two sides discussed political, business, and economic relations between Iran and Lebanon.

They also conferred on the readiness of Iranian companies to participate in Lebanese projects.

According to a statement from the Lebanese presidency, Aoun expressed his appreciation for Iran’s support to Lebanon and for the readiness it had shown to stand by Lebanon.

Zarif, meanwhile, relayed Aoun a message from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, inviting him to visit his country and praising the Lebanese-Iranian relations, The Daily Star reported.

Regional issues, in particular the issue of Syria and its displaced people in Lebanon, were also discussed in the meeting.

The Lebanese president called for Iran's help to return Syrian refugees to their war-torn country.

Lebanon “needs a [formula] that takes into account their safe return to stable Syrian areas,” the official Lebanese News Agency quoted Aoun as saying during the meeting with Zarif, aa.com.tr wrote.

“Iran has a role to help achieve this return,” he said.

The Lebanese leader pointed out that the repercussions of hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees in the country were “critical.”

Lebanese officials have been calling on Syrian refugees to voluntarily return to their country since last year. The authorities say that the refugees are pressuring the scarce resources in the country and the international community fails to support the refugees.

UN refugee agency UNHCR estimates the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon at 997,000.

Later in the day, the Iranian top diplomat also held talks with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil.

Boycott of conference

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During a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Bassil said Lebanon will not take part in a conference that Poland is holding this week on the situation in the Middle East and Iran, AP reported.

The two-day Warsaw conference begins Wednesday and will be co-hosted by the US.

During the meeting, the two sides also welcomed further cooperation between Iran and Lebanon in all areas particularly in most significant regional issues like Syria and the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

They also touched upon the ongoing negotiations on Syria, exchanged views on the Arab country’s crisis and underlined the need for finding a political solution to it through political talks.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Zarif arrived in Lebanon on Sunday at the official invitation of the Arab country’s officials.

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival in Beirut, Zarif congratulated Lebanon on the formation of the new government, saying his country is ready to cooperate with the new Lebanese government, offering support in all sectors.

The Iranian top diplomat’s visit came as Lebanon recently formed a new national unity government, ending nearly nine months of political wrangling.

Zarif also said Tehran is waiting for Beirut to show a desire to accept its past offers of military assistance, Press TV reported.

“We always have this type of readiness and we announced on other occasions that this tendency exists in Iran but we are waiting for this desire to exist on the Lebanese side,” said Zarif at the Beirut International Airport.

The top Iranian diplomat said his visit was aimed at declaring Tehran’s support for Lebanon and to announce that it “has complete and comprehensive readiness to deal with the brotherly Lebanese government in all areas.”

 

   
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