Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, said the entire Middle East would benefit from a renewed nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
But during a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Thursday evening, Amir-Abdollahian said “we have not yet reached the final point on lifting sanctions”.
Opponents of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal and lifting US sanctions say giving Iran tens of billions of dollars will allow it to fund its allies and militant proxies in the region.
The Foreign Minister, continuing his trip on Friday, met with political leaders from all Lebanese sects, including President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, and the leaders of the two main Shiite parties, Speaker of the House Nabih Berri of Amal , and Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah.
At a press conference after meeting his counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran wanted “a good, solid and lasting deal, but not at the cost of crossing its red lines”. The Foreign Secretary said US sanctions should be removed “in the maximum way”.
A recurring theme of Amir-Abdollahian’s visit was the need for detente with Saudi Arabia in line with President Ebrahim Raisi’s pledge to improve relations with Iran’s neighbors.
Lebanon’s foreign minister welcomed the detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to a reading of the meeting provided by Iran’s foreign ministry. Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have often surfaced in Lebanon, which has a large population of Sunni and Shia Muslims. Riyadh severed diplomatic ties with Beirut in October, and its influence also waned with the withdrawal from politics of Saad Hariri, leader of the Sunni Mustaqbal party and a Saudi citizen, in January.
Keep the doors open
Bou Habib, according to a reading from the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, said that not only would Lebanon benefit from improved relations between Tehran and Riyadh, which “would also provide an opportunity to help advance intra-Yemeni dialogue and resolve the crisis in this country”. ”
In an interview with Al Mayadeen TV on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian reiterated that Iran was ready for a fifth round of talks with the Saudis and was “working hard to keep the doors of dialogue open between the two countries.” Earlier this month, Iran suspended bilateral contacts, facilitated by Iraq, after Saudi Arabia beheaded 81 men – including 41 Saudi Shiites, seven Yemenis and one Syrian – for “heinous crimes”. .
In a meeting with academics and cultural and political figures on Friday, Iran’s foreign minister said Tehran was “ready to help Lebanon with medical services, medicines and medical equipment and other humanitarian needs. based”. Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday that Iran had offered to establish two 1,000-megawatt power plants in Lebanon to help solve its chronic power crisis and connect its energy grid to Lebanon through Syria and Iraq.
Much of Lebanon is without electricity, after decades of corruption and a financial crisis that erupted in late 2020, plunging 80% of the population into poverty. The crash follows post-war governments’ failure to control spiraling debt funded by expatriate deposits in Lebanon’s banking sector.
But the Iranian foreign minister’s offer of help comes as Tehran has often complained of shortages of medicine and medical supplies due to US sanctions. It also suffers from chronic electricity shortages, in part because the capacity of its power plants is insufficient.
Iranian government-controlled media reports of Amir-Abdollahian’s meetings did not mention his offer of assistance, possibly due to popular resentment of the Islamic Republic’s longstanding policy of providing financial and military resources to allies and proxies in the region.