BEIRUT: Iran and Saudi Arabia were not discussing the presidential election in Lebanon, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister said Monday.
Hussein Amir-Abdollahian denied in a TV interview reports that the two regional powers were holding any meetings to examine the issue of the presidential election or to agree on a consensus presidential candidate.
Former President Michel Sleiman’s six-year term ended last month, and Parliament has so far failed five times at electing a new president.
Saudi Arabia and Iran back the rival March 14 and March 8 groups respectively, but the former invited Iran’s foreign minister to visit Riyadh last month, hinting at the possibility of a thaw between the two regional powers.
Rapprochement between the two countries would have ramifications across the Middle East, potentially cooling political and military struggles especially in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.
A Lebanese national unity government was formed in February after a 10-month stalemate, with many giving credit to a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement. – The Daily Star