Zarif, Bassil hold Beirut press conference, Lebanon boycotts Warsaw conference

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil (R) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif after a joint press conference at the Lebanese foreign ministry HQ in Beirut.

:: Lebanese Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Gebran Bassil, announced his country’s boycott of the US-sponsored Mideast conference in Poland during a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif.

Bassil added Monday that the boycott was due to the presence of Israel, the direction the conference was going in, and the policy of self-dissociation that it has been adopting.

For his part, Zarif expressed his support for the Lebanese position on the Warsaw conference, announcing his conviction of the success of the current government.

“We are confident that the new government will succeed in Lebanon. 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,” said Zarif according to Lebanese National News Agency (NNA).

The Warsaw conference had been announced on January 11 by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that it will focus on Middle East stability, peace, freedom, security and making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence in the region.

As for Lebanese Iranian cooperation, Zarif said that “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.”

On Syria, the Iranian foreign minister said that all the forces entering Syria without permission from the “official leadership” must leave.

As for the case of detained Lebanese citizen Nizar Zaka, Zarif said that they are making necessary efforts to resolve the issue, although there is a separation of powers in Iran and an independence of the judiciary.

Zaka a Lebanese citizen who was arrested in 2015 by the Iranian government on spying allegations when he traveled to the Islamic Republic upon an official invite by Tehran.

On the other hand, Bassil Supported the formation of a Syrian constitution and the efforts aimed at facilitating the safe return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.

“We reject the policy of keeping refugees hostage to a political solution in Syria,” he added. “The Syrian state has a significant contribution that it can make to encourage the return of refugees through guarantees on individual property rights and military service,” Bassil said according to NNA.

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