The international community should help Lebanon without imposing any conditions on its government, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday during a visit to the capital Beirut following the devastating explosion that killed more than 170 people in the city earlier this month.
Zarif arrived in the Lebanese capital Thursday night and met with several senior Lebanese officials on Friday, including Prime Minister Hassan Diab, President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe.
“There should be international efforts to help Lebanon, not to impose anything on it,” Zarif said in televised comments.
On August 4, over 170 people were killed and more than 6,000 others were injured in Beirut when a warehouse storing nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded after catching on fire. The government of PM Diab resigned following the explosion.
International humanitarian aid has poured in but foreign states have linked financial assistance to reform of the Lebanese state, which has defaulted on its huge sovereign debts.
Zarif said there are sides that are taking advantage of Lebanon’s current circumstances, and that those same sides are the ones “who do not want stability and unity in Lebanon.”
“It is not humane to exploit the pain and suffering of the people for political goals,” he said.
“We believe that the government and the people of Lebanon should decide and other countries should not abuse the tragic need and the situation of Lebanon to impose their conditions,” said Zarif.
Iran’s chief diplomat announced Tehran’s readiness to help reconstruct the areas affected by the explosion in Beirut, the official IRNA news agency reported.
“I spoke with the Lebanese foreign minister about the possible means of cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Lebanon at this stage, with reconstruction, electricity, medicine and all vital fields,” said Zarif.
In his meeting with President Aoun, Zarif expressed hope that a stable situation would be established in Lebanon with the help of all political parties in the country, IRNA reported.
Iran backs Lebanon’s powerful armed movement Hezbollah, which along with its allies helped form the outgoing government. The US classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
The most powerful group in Lebanon, Hezbollah exercises major sway over government.
Zarif’s visit to Beirut at this time is the “peak of insolence,” former Lebanese Justice Minister Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi told Al Arabiya.
“Zarif acts as if Lebanon is an Iranian province,” Rifi said, adding that “Iran has turned Lebanon into a training center for terrorists.”