Iranian FM in Beirut for talks with top officials, resistance leaders

The Cradle, January 13, 2023 — During a joint press conference, Iran’s foreign minister called for political dialogue and a ‘swift’ presidential election, rejecting claims of Iranian interference in Lebanese affairs.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, on 13 January after arriving in the country a day earlier for a three-day visit aimed at holding discussions with a number of officials.

During the press conference, Amir-Abdollahian emphasized that the Islamic Republic “does not interfere” in Lebanon’s internal affairs, as it is commonly accused of. The Iranian foreign minister also called for political dialogue and “a swift [presidential] election process.”

Lebanon has been without a president since 31 October, when the term of Michel Aoun ended.

Since then, several parliament sessions dedicated to the election of a president have failed due to a lack of consensus among lawmakers and external political pressure. Washington and its allies have been pushing to ensure that the US-backed commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), Joseph Aoun (no relation to the former president), is elected president.

Amir-Abdollahian also renewed Iran’s pledge to help alleviate Lebanon’s severe energy crisis through the importation of Iranian fuel, something that has failed to materialize as a result of Washington’s sabotage efforts.

By doing this, the US leaves Lebanon with no alternative. After Hezbollah brought Iranian fuel into the country in 2021 and pledged to continue doing so, the US offered a separate plan – designed to curb the Iranian offer – which involved a deal to import electricity into Lebanon via Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

However, while continuing to block more recent Iranian fuel offers, the US has yet to issue sanctions-waivers (which are in place due to the Caesar Act – Washington’s draconian sanction policy against Syria) for the Egyptian companies involved in the deal. As many have suggested, the US is intentionally leaving Lebanon with no solution in sight as a form of demoralization and political pressure.

The Lebanese foreign minister said that despite “foreign obstacles and pressures,” the attempts to import Iranian fuel will persist.

As the press conference went on, Bou Habib also added that Lebanon is “keen” on the stability of the Islamic Republic and rejects interference by other countries – in reference to the ongoing, foreign-instigated unrest taking place across the country.

Amir-Abdollahian also met with the Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) resistance movement, Ziad al-Nakhala, as well as with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

During his meeting with Nasrallah, the two discussed the latest developments in Palestine and the region, the swearing in of Israel’s new extremist government, and the role of the resistance axis across West Asia.

The Iranian diplomat also held a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail, and with Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, at his residence in Ain al-Tineh, discussing bilateral ties and a number of other issues.

Tomorrow, the foreign minister is scheduled to visit Syria for talks with the Damascus government, Syrian media reports.

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