BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri congratulated Thursday Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani on his recent election victory and expressed hope the Islamic Republic would play a new positive role in the region, a statement from Hariri’s office said.
“You election as president to the Iranian republic was well received by the countries and peoples and moderates who look forward to a new positive Iranian role that will help consolidate stability and prevent strife [in the region],” Hariri said in a cable sent to Rouhani.
Reform-minded Rouhani won Iran's presidential election in the first round last week with over 50 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff.
The Future Movement leader voiced hope that Lebanese-Iranian ties would be restricted to official channels in the absence of “military alliances,” referring to the Iranian alliance with Lebanon's Hezbollah.
“As your election comes at a sensitive and challenging stage in both the Arab and Muslim worlds ... we in Lebanon hope that your election will be an opportunity to launch a new vision for the Iranian leadership, based on sound and correct rules for the ties between our two countries,” Hariri said.
“[We aspire for] ties which are not based on regional military alliances with Lebanese groups and parties from outside the state’s legitimate and official institutions, as is the case now."
“Unfortunately, such alliances are now affecting Lebanon’s ties with other neighboring countries and are threatening national cohesion between the Lebanese factions,” he added.
Hariri, the leader of the Lebanese opposition, also hailed Rouhani’s statements over future cooperation between Iran and Arab countries.
“We hope [these statements] will lead to a breakthrough in Arab-Iranian relations and develop for the benefit of our peoples,” Hariri said.
The former prime minister also cabled the U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice, congratulating her over her new post.