BEIRUT: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed relief over recent positive developments in the formation of a Cabinet in Lebanon, voicing Tehran’s readiness to improve ties with Riyadh.
But the United States condemned Tuesday Zarif’s visit to the grave of a slain Hezbollah commander, saying it sent the wrong message and worsened regional tension.
White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Imad Mughniyeh, whose grave Zarif visited Monday, was to blame for “heinous acts of terrorism” that killed hundreds, including Americans.
Zarif wrapped up a two-day visit to Lebanon Monday evening, after meeting with top Lebanese officials and politicians.
“We express our pleasure at signs of agreement and coordination that emerged last week, and we hope they will lead to outcomes that will improve conditions in Lebanon and the region,” Zarif told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV Monday evening.
“We always hope to have accord between all Lebanese factions.”
Zarif said he hoped Saudi Arabia would positively receive his country’s readiness to maintain good ties.
“We are ready to have very good ties with all countries in the region. ... As for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we are ready to improve ties and continue with talks. We hope that the kingdom will address this matter positively,” he said.
The minister said there were many fields of cooperation between Lebanon and the Islamic Republic.
Zarif made his remarks following a reception held by the Iranian Embassy in his honor at Phoenicia InterContinental Hotel in Beirut. Attending was Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt along with a host of politicians from the March 8 and March 14 coalitions.
During his visit, Zarif met President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, premier-designate Tammam Salam, caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour and Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
In remarks made during his meetings, Zarif said an all-embracing government would represent a shield that could protect Lebanon from the dangers of terrorism.
Zarif also visited the Iranian Embassy, the site of a suicide bombing on Nov. 19, and praised the Lebanon’s “tremendous efforts” to probe the attack.