Zarif Meets Top Officials, Nasrallah, Says Iran Backs Efforts to Form New Cabinet
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday voiced his country's support for forming an all-embracing cabinet in Lebanon, hoping for the activation of the economic agreements between the two countries, “especially after the lifting of the international sanctions” that were imposed on Tehran.
Zarif's remarks were voiced at the end of an official visit to Lebanon during which he met with President Michel Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour and Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
“My visit coincided with political initiatives that opened the door for rapprochement between the Lebanese parties, which might lead to the formation of a new cabinet that would consolidate security and stability,” Zarif said after talks with Mansour at the Bustros Palace in Ashrafiyeh.
“We support any dialogue between the Lebanese parties and we back their efforts to form a new cabinet,” the top Iranian diplomat said in response to a reporter's question.
Separately, Zarif noted that “precious Lebanese blood united with Iranian blood after Lebanese and Iranian citizens were martyred in the attack that targeted the Iranian embassy in Lebanon,” hailing the Lebanese government's “serious efforts in probing this terrorist case” and hoping “this will be the beginning of regional cooperation in this regard.”
The Iranian FM also hoped “all the bilateral agreements that were signed in the past will be implemented, especially in light of the new global circumstances that have removed the many obstacles that were preventing their realization.”
“We seriously believe that the phenomenon of terrorism, takfirism and extremism is targeted against everyone in this region and therefore we believe that a common threat can only be confronted through common efforts,” said Zarif.
Asked about Tehran's relation with Saudi Arabia, Zarif replied: “There is a principle in Iranian policy, which is establishing the best relations of cooperation with the region's countries. Saudi Arabia is one of the most important countries and Iran is seeking to have the best ties with it.”
The Iranian official noted that Riyadh “can play a critical role in restoring calm in the region.”
Turning to the Syrian crisis, Zarif stressed the importance of dialogue among the rival Syrian parties at the upcoming Geneva 2 peace conference.
For his part, FM Mansour said the meeting with Zarif tackled “the issue of terrorism that is rocking the region, which resulted from the Syrian conflict.”
“We agreed that a political solution in Syria can only be reached through dialogue,” said Mansour.
“We voiced our desire to activate the signed protocols between the two countries so that the economic ties can become at the level of the political relations between our two countries,” the minister added.
Earlier on Monday, President Suleiman and Zarif said that it was important for Iran to engage in dialogue with Arab countries to preserve stability in the region.
Their stance came during a meeting held at the Baabda Palace. A statement issued after the meeting said Suleiman “stressed the importance of Iranian dialogue with Arab countries and of having good ties with them to preserve stability in the Middle East.”
The president also hoped that the Geneva II peace conference would come up with a roadmap to resolve the Syrian crisis and allow the people to decide on the fate of their country.
The statement said that the Iranian FM, who arrived in Beirut on Sunday as part of a tour that will also take him to Damascus, Amman and Baghdad, lauded Suleiman's role in achieving unity and stability in the country.
He stressed the importance of having good relations between Iran and Arab countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, to protect regional stability.
The statement also quoted the visiting official as saying that Tehran would continue to work for stability in the region whether it was invited or not to the Geneva talks.
Zarif later inspected the site of the Iranian embassy bombing in the Bir Hassan district of Beirut's southern suburbs.
The Iranian official had also held talks with PM-designate Salam at his Msaitbeh residence in Beirut.
Zarif expressed confidence in the Lebanese agencies and the judiciary to resolve the case of the attack, said Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5).
Zarif announced at the Rafik Hariri International Airport on Sunday that an Iranian judicial delegation would visit Beirut soon to probe the circumstances of the twin suicide bombing that targeted the Iranian embassy in November.
The announcement comes after the death of Majed al-Majed, the Saudi chief of the Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades and the alleged mastermind of the deadly attack.
Later on Monday, the Iranian foreign minister visited Speaker Berri in Ain el-Tineh and then met with FM Mansour.