Lebanon News

Zarif: Iran will send officials to study Majid case

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a press conference upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced Sunday that an Iranian delegation would be visiting Lebanon soon to probe the file of Majid al-Majid, the head of an Al-Qaeda-offshoot group who died in Lebanon last week after being arrested in connection with the bombing of the Iranian Embassy.

“In the near future, an Iranian delegation will come [to Lebanon] to study the circumstances relating to the case of Majid al-Majid,” Zarif said in a statement upon arriving at Rafik Hariri International Airport.

He also congratulated the Lebanese government on apprehending the Saudi national so quickly after the Nov. 19 twin suicide bombings outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.

Wanted by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iran, Majid was head of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group that claimed responsibility for the attack on Iran’s embassy. The blasts killed 30 people, including an Iranian diplomat.

The Army had arrested Majid last month, but he died at a military hospital on Jan. 4 before he could be interrogated. His remains were flown to Riyadh.

Zarif said the region needed to come together to fight “takfiris” and terrorists. “There are many common challenges faced by the entire region. It is facing takfirism and terrorism, and we must unite our political efforts to address these issues.”

Zarif stressed that “the brotherly relations with our brother Lebanon are important to Iran,” pointing out that, “Lebanon is a strong, resilient country that has always confronted Israel, and we are counting on the importance of Lebanon in the region and strengthening relations with it.”

He is scheduled to meet several officials, including President Michel Sleiman, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour.

Talks are expected to look at the situation in Lebanon as well as recent developments in the region, especially with regards to the Syrian conflict. Zarif was also expected to visit the shrine of Imad Mughniyeh Monday morning and pay respects to the martyrs from the embassy bombing.

Speaking on the subject of the Syrian crisis, Zarif said the only available solution was a political one. He added that the “best way to reduce the phenomenon of terrorism and takfirism in the region, is to provide an opportunity for the Syrian people to express their opinion through the ballot box.”

Commenting on Geneva II, Zarif said had Iran received an invitation to the peace conference with no set conditions beforehand, it would have participated, “but we do not seek to receive such an invitation.”

He is expected to travel to Damascus after Beirut.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 13, 2014, on page 3.




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