Iran's foreign minister Zarif is first to meet Lebanon's new president Aoun

World Monday 07/November/2016 21:21 PM
By: Times News Service
Iran's foreign minister Zarif is first to meet Lebanon's new president Aoun

BEIRUT: Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday became the first foreign minister to meet Lebanon's new president.
A Christian leader and close ally of Lebanon's Hezbollah who was elected president last week, Aoun also met an envoy sent by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad earlier in the day.
Iran, which welcomed Aoun's election as a victory for Hezbollah, is a political and military ally of Assad in the Syrian civil war.
Assad's troops are supported by Iran-backed militias and Hezbollah fighters from neighbouring Lebanon.
Speaking on arrival at Beirut airport, Zarif, who was accompanied by a high profile political and economic delegation, said he hoped to expand ties with Lebanon.
Former army commander Michel Aoun was elected by the Lebanese parliament as president last Monday, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum. Aoun then asked Saad Al Hariri to start consultations to form a new government of which Hariri would be prime minister.
The empty presidency was a symptom of an underlying political struggle between rival factions in Lebanon, which has been made worse by the war in neighbouring Syria.
It has paralysed decision-making, economic development and basic services, and raised fears for the country's stability.
The deal to appoint Aoun as president and Hariri as prime minister has underscored Hezbollah's dominant role in Lebanon.
Syrian envoy Mansour Azzam, who is head of presidential affairs, greeted Aoun on behalf of Syria's Assad, saying he hoped Aoun's election would contribute to stability in Lebanon and in the region.
Azzam said there would be "no new page" in Syria-Lebanon relations and they would continue in a balanced way.
Aoun's meetings with Iranian and Syrian dignitaries came on the same day as Prime Minister-designate Hariri said Lebanon's new administration was a chance to revive ties with the Gulf Arab countries.
"The formation of the government is a chance to renew the emphasis on Lebanon's Arab identity and return momentum and heat to Lebanon's relations with its brethren in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)," Hariri said after meeting GCC ambassadors to Lebanon.