Iran FM leaves for Lebanon for key talks
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has left for Lebanon on the first leg of the second round of his regional tours following a nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers.
The Iranian minister left Tehran for the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday to hold talks with Lebanese officials including his counterpart Gebran Bassil on regional developments, particularly the ongoing crisis in Syria, and the conclusion of Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, said on Tuesday that Zarif is expected to discuss bilateral issues, regional developments as well as the scourge of terrorism and extremism during his regional trip.
She added that the Iranian minister would also brief Lebanese officials on the Islamic Republic’s new plan for the the settlement of the Syrian conflict.
“From the very start, the policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the Syrian crisis has been based on three reasonable principles; respect for the Syrian nation’s legitimate right to determine its own fate, opposition to foreigners’ interference …and opposition to the use of terrorism for the realization of political objectives,” Afkham said.
She noted that Iran’s new four-point proposal is being updated in accordance with these principles and will be unveiled after consultation with the Syrian government and other influential countries.
“Since the beginning of the crisis, the Islamic Republic of Iran believed that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis and that it should end through a political and diplomatic solution based on dialog and agreement,” said Afkham.
In an interview with the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV on August 5, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Iran plans to submit a new proposal to the United Nations to resolve the crisis in Syria.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will submit its revised proposal on [resolving the crisis in] Syria to the UN Secretary General [Ban Ki-moon],” Amir-Abdollahian said.
Last year, Iran proposed a peace plan emphasizing a political settlement to the crisis in Syria, the territorial integrity and independence of the Arab country as well as its people’s right to self-determination in a democratic election.
Iran’s deepening ties with regional states
Amir-Abdollahian said on Tuesday that Zarif would discuss Iran’s policy of strengthening ties with regional and neighboring states and the necessity to focus on political solutions to ongoing crises in the region.
“Discussing regional and international developments also top the agenda of this round of the Iranian foreign minister’s tour,” the Iranian diplomat added.
Zarif’s Turkey visit postponed
An informed source at Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday confirmed reports that Zarif has postponed his scheduled visit to Turkey due to the overlapping of his schedule.
The source added that Zarif’s visit to Ankara is still on the agenda and will take place soon.
Zarif was expected to travel to Turkey on Tuesday for talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Zarif’s visit has been postponed indefinitely.
Visit to India, Pakistan
The Iranian foreign minister also plans to travel to Pakistan and India on Thursday.
Zarif will first fly to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad for a day-long stay, during which, he will hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif about bilateral issues and regional developments.
The Iranian minister will then travel to India to meet with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.
Zarif and Indian officials would discuss the latest developments in the region, Iran’s recent nuclear agreement with world powers and the subsequent lifting of sanctions.