Zarif in Beirut: Nuke deal ‘historic opportunity’ to face Israeli threats
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Zarif in Beirut: Nuke deal ‘historic opportunity’ to face Israeli threats

Iranian FM meets with Hezbollah leader, Lebanese PM; stresses importance of Tehran-Beirut coordination for regional stability

In this picture released by the Hezbollah media department, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015.  (Hezbollah Media Department via AP)
In this picture released by the Hezbollah media department, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. (Hezbollah Media Department via AP)

The Iran nuclear deal presents an “historic opportunity” to combat Israeli “threats,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah during a Tuesday meeting in Beirut, Hezbollah’s al-Manar television station said Wednesday.

“Zarif said from Beirut that the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the world powers created a historic opportunity to [sic] for regional cooperation to fight extremism and face threats posed by the Zionist entity,” al-Manar reported.

Along with the Syrian regime, the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah is funded by Iran. Hezbollah has dispatched thousands of fighters to support embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s five-year civil war.

The foreign minister arrived in Beirut on Tuesday for a two-day visit. He was also set to meet his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday.

He also met Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam in Beirut Tuesday, in their first official meeting since Salam took office last year.

“We value the major role played by the prime minister in providing security, fighting terrorism and creating cooperation,” Zarif told reporters after their 35-minute meeting, according to al-Manar.

Zarif stressed the importance of coordination between Iran and Lebanon on issue of “regional peace and stability.” He also appeared to address Lebanon’s fractious political class, saying “today is not the day for competition and rivalry, but the competition should be to build Lebanon.”

He made no specific mention of discussions on the Syrian crisis, which a spokeswoman had earlier said would be part of the talks.

An official who attended the meeting said Salam and Zarif discussed Lebanon’s ongoing presidential vacuum and agreed there should be more discussion on this topic.

The Iranian foreign minister said he hoped for “more cooperation between the Lebanese and Iranian governments and people, so that this new beginning for our region will be good for regional countries.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told official news agency IRNA that Zarif’s visit to Beirut would include discussions on “bilateral issues, regional events, and the terrorism and extremism crisis.”

He is also expected to discuss “Iran’s new plan to help solve the Syrian issue,” Afkham is quoted as saying.

The top diplomat will continue on to Damascus. Zarif on Tuesday postponed a scheduled visit to Turkey, officials said, with mystery surrounding the reason for the last-minute cancellation.

The visit had been expected to touch on the Syria crisis, which has caused profound disagreements between Tehran and Ankara with Iran one of the last allies of Turkey’s nemesis President Bashar Assad.

“There has been a change in the program,” the Turkish official said, without giving any reason.

Iran’s official IRNA agency also cited an Iranian Foreign Ministry official as saying the visit had been postponed due to “scheduling problems.”

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