Iran’s foreign minister urges Lebanon to end political deadlock

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister and foreign minister Najib Mikati on Thursday (April 27) and urged officials to end the political deadlock and elect a president.

After meeting the caretaker prime minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, Amir-Abdollahian, who is on a two-day visit to Beirut, said Iran supports any agreement regarding the Lebanese presidential election.

Lebanon’s presidency has been vacant since Michel Aoun’s term ended in October 2022, leaving the country without a president for almost six months.

At a press conference on Thursday, Amir-Abdollahian said he called on Lebanese officials to end the political deadlock and elect a president, and urged foreign governments not to interfere in their choice.

“We encourage all sides in Lebanon to expedite the election of a president,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

“We will support any election and agreement reached between all Lebanese sides… and we call on other foreign parties to respect the choice of the Lebanese without interfering in the country’s affairs,” he added.

A caretaker cabinet with limited powers has been in place since May last year after legislative polls gave no side a clear majority.

The Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement has endorsed pro-Syrian Sleiman Frangieh for the presidency. However, some lawmakers have accused the group of obstructing the ballot after the group and its allies spoilt their ballots during 11 attempts in parliament to elect a president.

“Lebanese officials and all political parties and sides in the country have the capacity and the competence to reach a consensus on electing the president,” said Amir-Abdollahian.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has warned that the next president cannot be close to Washington, which he has accused of “intervening” in Lebanon.

Meanwhile Amir-Abdollahian said Thursday that he discussed “comprehensive cooperation between Iran and Lebanon” and Iran’s readiness “to further strengthen the ties in economy, trade, tourism, science, technology and other fields,” with Abdallah Bou Habib.

Amir-Abdollahian also met with speaker of parliament Nabih Berri in Beirut. He will meet with other Lebanese officials before traveling to Damascus on Friday.