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Iranian FM offers Lebanon all-round military aid in Beirut

File photo: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Beirut, Lebanon Feb 12, 2019, 04.59 PM (IST)

Iran has stood ready to support the Lebanese government and provide all-around military aid, said Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Monday at a press conference after talks with Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil.

Zarif arrived on Sunday in the Lebanese capital where he met with the country's President Michel Aoun, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

He was the first Iranian government minister to visit Lebanon after Lebanon formed a new government on January 31, 2019.

He said Iran is ready to provide all-round military aid to Lebanon when the Lebanese side deems it appropriate.

On his part, Bassil welcomed Iran's aid, but said it must be unconditional and the Lebanese government will conduct an assessment based on its national interests.

"All the aid to our troops and organizations must be unconditional. As long as it can enhance the strengthening of our country and government organizations, we should embrace it," he said.

Analysts believe that Hezbollah has gained a greater say in the new Lebanese government, which has previously drawn criticism from Israel and caused tensions in the bilateral ties.

Zarif's visit and his offer of military aid are feared to add to uncertainty in the bilateral ties of Lebanon and Israel.

Hezbollah is a militant group and political party that was founded by Shiite clerics in Lebanon following the Israeli invasion in 1982. It is believed to coordinate its efforts closely with Shiite-dominated Iran.

Bassil also announced that his country would not attend the international ministerial meeting on the Middle East on February 13-14 in Warsaw.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Jan. 11 the meeting would "focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence."

Zarif has dismissed the meeting as an "anti-Iranian circus event."

Story highlights

Zarif arrived on Sunday in the Lebanese capital where he met with the country's President Michel Aoun, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri.