Iran’s foreign minister has traveled to Lebanon to discuss developments in the Middle East region and bolster relations with senior Lebanese authorities.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that while “mixed messages” had been received from Riyadh, Iran expected “the Saudis will act in the interest of the region.” There has been recent speculation that Saudi Arabia may restore diplomatic relations with Lebanon, broken off in October.
Saudi-Iran tensions have often played out in Lebanon, which has a substantial population of both Sunni and Shia Muslims. Earlier this month Iran suspended bilateral talks after Saudi Arabia beheaded 81 men, including seven Yemenis and a Syrian, for “heinous crimes.” Forty-one were Saudi Shiites, Human Rights Watch reported, apparently sentenced over protests.
On arrival at the airport, Amir-Abdollahian told reporters he had met Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on the side-lines of the 58th Munich Security Conference a month ago, and expressed “Iran's readiness to establish two 1,000-megawatt power stations in Lebanon and to fully develop trade and economic cooperation...”
Lebanon suffers from chronic power shortage, one consequence of a financial crisis that erupted in late 2020, plunging 80 percent of the population into poverty, following the failure of post-war governments to control a spiraling debt financed by Lebanese banks.
Amir-Abdollahian is due to meet President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib. The foreign minister called consultations with Lebanon, where officials hail from a range of sects, “regular and constructive.”