04/01/2021, 10.20
LEBANON - IRAN
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The Maronite patriarch receives an Iranian delegation to unblock the Lebanese crisis

Card. Beshara Raï met with Sheikh Hamid Shahrayari and the charge d'affaires of the embassy in Beirut. A "frank and transparent" dialogue which confirmed the importance of "national unity" to safeguard "sovereignty". Openness to dialogue and confrontation also by the leader of Hezbollah to "get the country out of the impasse".

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In the context of a profound political and institutional crisis, with an almost irreversible rift between President Michel Aoun and the prime minister in charge Saad Hariri, the Maronite patriarch is continuing consultations in an attempt to find a way out.

Yesterday Card. Beshara Raï received an Iranian delegation, chaired by the secretary general of the World Front for Friendship between Islamic Schools, Sheikh Hamid Shahrayari, the charge d'affaires of the Tehran embassy in Beirut, Hassan Khalil and senior officials.

At the end of the meeting, a delegate from the Islamic Republic spoke of a "frank and transparent" dialogue, underlining at the same time "the need to remain attached to national unity, the only one capable of preserving Lebanon's sovereignty, its freedom and independence". Current historical experience, continues the Tehran diplomat, "has shown that when Lebanon demonstrates national unity, it can resist against all external aggressions".

For some time, the Maronite patriarch has supported a position of "positive neutrality" for the country and the need for an international conference under the aegis of the United Nations. The cardinal was targeted by an Iranian newspaper in early March for his critical positions towards the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, close to Iran. Criticisms that had prompted Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbé to summon the Iranian ambassador, who did not even want to respond to the summons.

For supporters of the president, the interim prime minister is waiting for the conclusion of a new agreement between Iran and the United States that would end up obliging Saudi Arabia, close to Hariri, to adopt a more "realistic" view of the situation in Lebanon. An agreement [between Washington and Tehran] that, today, still seems a mirage but could prove to be the key to unblocking the stalemate in Lebanese public and institutional life.

Analysts and observers argue that, at the moment, Iran has an interest in keeping "the Lebanese charter" for future talks with the White House when the negotiations begin. Even a European diplomat, on condition of anonymity, points the finger at the Islamic Republic, considering it chiefly responsible for the current blockade.

Meanwhile, a first, partial opening comes from the head of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah who, yesterday evening, admitted the current difficulties and invoked the need for dialogue and compromise: "The country - he said - is on the brink of the abyss and no longer has the luxury of time. The time has come to put aside all expectations and differences and to undertake a serious attempt to get the country out of the current impasse ".

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