Iran foreign minister visits Lebanon, offers support for new government

Mohammad Javad Zarif, on two-day visit, says Tehran is prepared to cooperate with Beirut in any way possible

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives at Rafik Hariri Airport, in Beirut, Lebanon, February 10, 2019. (Hussein Malla/Ap)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives at Rafik Hariri Airport, in Beirut, Lebanon, February 10, 2019. (Hussein Malla/Ap)

Iran’s foreign minister said Sunday that his country is ready to cooperate with the new Lebanese government, offering support in all sectors.

Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke to reporters at Beirut’s airport shortly after his arrival in the Lebanese capital.

Lebanon formed a new government last week after a nine-month vacuum that exacerbated the country’s economic woes. Hezbollah, a terror group that operates as a proxy of Iran, has three ministers in the new government.

Zarif congratulated Lebanese politicians and said Iran was ready to support the government in any way possible. He is scheduled to meet with the Lebanese president, prime minister and foreign minister during his visit.

Last Wednesday Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he was willing to ask Iran to supply the Lebanese military with weapons and aerial defense systems to counter Israel’s air power, and called on Beirut to accept the offer, Lebanon’s Naharnet news site reported.

“I’m a friend of Iran and I’m willing to bring the Lebanese Army air defense systems from Iran to confront Israel,” Nasrallah said in a televised address marking the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution and the overthrow of the shah.

Nasrallah also vowed that the organization would defend Iran in the event of war, saying the Islamic Republic would not be alone in a confrontation with America.

The Shiite group was formed in 1982 under the guidance of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to combat Israel. It has been Iran’s most successful investment abroad, serving as the Islamic Republic’s arm at Israel’s doorstep.

Lebanon has long complained of Israeli warplanes regularly entering its air space, including to carry out alleged strikes on targets in neighboring Syria.

Israel has said it is determined to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, where Iran-backed militias are helping the Damascus regime defeat rebels in that country’s civil war.

Jerusalem has recently admitted that the air force has hit hundreds of Iranian military targets in Syria over the past few years as part of its efforts to stop Syria becoming a forward base for Iranian attacks on the Jewish state.

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