BEIRUT: The Iranian Embassy has confirmed that Mohammad Fathali will replace Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi, who is expected to leave his post this summer.
Lebanon's Central News Agency said Fathali, who previously served as a Foreign Ministry economic adviser and Iran’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan, would take over as Tehran’s new envoy in Beirut. The CNA said Fathali, a Middle East expert, was expected to take over the post in July.
The Iranian Embassy confirmed the selection of Fathali to The Daily Star.
Roknabadi had made farewell visits Tuesday to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, where the diplomat indirectly indicated his mission was over.
He also bid farewell to President Michel Sleiman, who awarded the ambassador the Presidency Shield and wished him success in his next mission.
"I thanked the speaker for the efforts he put over the past four years during my mission in Lebanon in order to strengthen parliamentary cooperation between Lebanon and Iran,” Roknabadi said after the talks with Berri.
He also thanked Berri for his support for the resistance.
On the presidential election, Roknabadi said Tehran supported the election of a president “in the best way possible.”
Iran, he stressed, would back any widely agreed-upon president.
“The atmosphere is promising, and the Lebanese are the decision-makers,” Roknabadi said, adding that he hoped a new head of state would be soon elected.
"It is still possible to hold the presidential election on time if Lebanese political rivals reach a consensus," the envoy said. “Iran supports whichever candidate they agree on."