Mon Nov 7, 2016 6:30PM
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in the presidential palace in Baabda, near the Lebanese capital of Beirut, on November 7, 2016.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in the presidential palace in Baabda, near the Lebanese capital of Beirut, on November 7, 2016.
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Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif has held talks with Lebanon’s newly-elected President Michel Aoun in Beirut, becoming the first foreign minister to meet with the Lebanese head of state.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting on Monday, the Iranian foreign minister said steadfastness and resistance of the Lebanese people would lead to the defeat of the terrorists.

He added that Iran would always support Lebanon and is determined to improve cooperation with the country.

Zarif further said the Israeli regime is a threat to the Middle East, noting that Takfiri terrorists and the Zionist regime are the common enemies of Iran and Lebanon in the region.

"Iran and Lebanon have common enemies such as the Zionist regime as well as Takfiri and terrorist groups; however, beyond the common enemies, there are joint interests for stability and progress between the two countries and we have stood and will stand by the Lebanese people on both grounds," he said.   

Zarif extended his congratulations to Aoun on his election as the new Lebanese president and said the country’s political achievement was a victory for all the Lebanese people.

The Iranian minister stressed that the two countries have many opportunities to expand political and economic relations, noting that Iran and Lebanon should make use of their common interests to promote stability and progress for the two countries.

“We are optimistic about the future of relations between Iran and Lebanon and these ties, which serve the interests of the two countries’ people and the entire region, are not harmful to any side,” he added.

Zarif’s visit to Beirut came just days after Lebanon's lawmakers elected former army commander, Michel Aoun, as president when they convened for their 46th attempt to choose a head of state.

After four rounds of voting on October 31, including two unexpected repeat votes, Aoun secured the presidency by winning the support of 83 out of 127 MPs, well above the absolute majority of 65 needed to win.

Lebanon had been without a head of state since 2014, when the term of President Michel Suleiman expired and the Lebanese parliament repeatedly failed to elect a president due to the lack of quorum.

Iran to begin broader political, economic ties with Lebanon: Zarif

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival in Beirut, Zarif said he is heading a high-ranking politico-economic delegation and emphasized that Iran is determined to establish broader and more effective political and economic relations with Lebanon.

He pointed to Aoun’s election, which ended a 29-month presidential vacuum, and said, “Through their courage, and capabilities and the use of democracy, the Lebanese people showed that when they make a decision and others do not meddle with their decision-making, they can build a better future for themselves and the region.”

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd R) speaks to reporters upon his arrival in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on November 7, 2016.

The top Iranian diplomat expressed hope that the Lebanese people, who have suffered from extremism, would witness a very promising future.

In a telephone conversation with Aoun following his election, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended his felicitations to him over his landslide victory and said the election of Aoun as Lebanon’s new president was the manifestation of peace and the triumph of democracy and a victory for all the country’s political parties.

He also said Tehran will keep its unwavering support for Lebanon’s government and nation as well as the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah.

The Iranian foreign minister paid two rounds of visits to Lebanon in January 2014 and August 2015.

Zarif meets with Lebanese counterpart

The Iranian foreign minister also held talks with his Lebanese counterpart, Gebran Bassil, in Beirut on Monday.

The top Iranian and Lebanese diplomats discussed ways to improve cooperation in different political, economic and cultural fields as well as the latest developments in the Middle East, particularly the Syria crisis.