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Leader’s aide rejects Hariri allegations against Iran

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs

A senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs has rejected the recent allegations against Iran leveled by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a long-time Saudi ally who recently announced his resignation in a broadcast from the kingdom.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Ali Akbar Velayati dismissed the claim by the Lebanese premier in a television interview on Sunday that he had called on Iran during a meeting between the two to stop interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs. Velayati met with Hariri in Lebanon earlier this month a day before his resignation declaration.

“In our talks, this issue was not raised and he [Hariri] asked to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” Velayati said.

The Iranian official added that his discussions with Hariri went smoothly without any problem, contrary to what has been claimed.

“This is inculcation by Saudis and others who are not willing to see peace in Lebanon and also the strategic friendship between the two countries (Iran and Lebanon),” he pointed out.

Velayati emphasized that the two sides discussed bilateral and regional relations.

Pointing to Hariri’s call to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh, he said, “We have no problem with negotiations."

“At the meeting, I told Hariri that he should tell the Saudis to stop humanitarian crimes in Yemen…and hold negotiations with the Yemenis because the Yemeni issue only has a political solution,” the Leader’s aide said.

He added that Iran and Lebanon enjoy strategic relations and expressed hope that Hariri would return to Lebanon in accordance with the country’s regulations.

Hariri announced his resignation on November 4, a day after his meeting with Velayati in Beirut, citing several reasons, including the security situation in Lebanon, for his sudden decision. He also said that he realized a plot being hatched against his life.

Hariri also accused Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, of meddling in the Arab countries’ affairs; an allegation the two have rejected.

The Lebanese prime minister announced his resignation following his visit to Saudi Arabia.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Sunday that Hariri is living in “mysterious circumstances” with restricted freedom in Riyadh.

Aoun said Hariri was living in “mysterious circumstances” in Riyadh, which had “reached the degree of restricting (his) freedom” and Riyadh had imposed "conditions on his residency and on contact with him even by members of his family,” Lebanon's presidency said in a statement.

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