February 12, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif offered Lebanon on Monday an open-ended proposal for receiving economic, health and security support from Tehran, asserting that no international law prevents the two sides from cooperating.
“We will always support the people and extend a helping hand in all frameworks possible, and we are ready to respond to the Lebanese government’s request to cooperate with it in any vital area it deems appropriate,” the Iranian minister said in a joint press conference held Monday with his Lebanese counterpart Jebran Bassil.
“There is no international law that prevents Iran and Lebanon from cooperating; even resolution 2231 requires all countries to normalize their economic relations with Iran,” Zarif added.
The Iranian official met on Monday several Lebanese leaders, including President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.
Zarif was informed about Lebanon’s decision to boycott the Warsaw ministerial summit on peace and security in the Middle East, which is co-hosted by the US and attended by some 80 countries, including Israel. The conference, scheduled for Wednesday, is widely seen as aimed at isolating Iran, which was not invited.
The Iranian minister delivered statements following his meetings with Aoun, Berri, and Bassil, however, he left the Grand Serail with no comments.
Presidential sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that Zarif spoke with officials about cooperation between Tehran and Beirut, asserting his country’s readiness to place its full potentials at the disposal of Lebanon.
He also offered support at all levels, including economic, social, health, energy, military, security and reconstruction.
According to the same sources, Zarif said Tehran was keen on not embarrassing Beirut in this regard, suggesting to use the same mechanism applied between his country and the European Union in this regard. The sources said President Aoun thanked the Iranian minister and welcomed his proposal.
Economic expert Louis Hobeika told Asharq Al-Awsat that cooperation between Europe and Iran takes place on a reciprocal basis, a mechanism that can be used in Lebanon. However, the expert said that any offer to provide the Lebanese Army with Iranian weapons is impossible.
The sources also said Zarif expressed his country’s readiness to help with the file of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.