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Amidst top Iranian visit, Lebanon says will not attend Warsaw 'anti-Iran' summit

In this picture provided by Hezbollah Media Relations office, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, right, meets with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.
Hezbollah Media Relations Office, via AP

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on Monday amidst the top diplomat’s official visit to Lebanon.

Additionally, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil announced that Lebanon would not be taking part in the US-led Warsaw conference addressing Iran’s influence in the Middle East, announcing the move during a joint press conference with Zarif.

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif touched down in Lebanon’s capital on Sunday afternoon for a two-day visit meant to send a signal of cooperation and support for the newly-announced government.

During Zarif’s visit with the Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah was said to have hailed Iranian support for Lebanon, the Palestinian people, and “resistance movements in the area,” Lebanon’s al-Manar reported, adding that the Lebanese leader stressed that Iranian support has led to victories achieved in various fields in Lebanon and the region.

Zarif reportedly also stressed continued Iranian support of the Lebanese government, its people, and resistance movements.

Boycotting Warsaw ‘anti-Iran’ summit

Lebanon’s foreign minister announced the state’s refusal to take part in the US-led Warsaw conference scheduled to begin on Wednesday as Palestinians have urged Arab countries to boycott the event.

The summit on Middle East stability has been billed as anti-Iran after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the intention of the talks “includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence."

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (POOL/AFP/File)

Announcing their intention not to attend, Lebanon's Bassil explained that the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the “orientation of the conference” contributed to their decision.

“We explained why we will not be present at the Warsaw conference,” Bassil said, according to Naharnet, noting that Lebanon would boycott the summit because “Israel will be present and because of the orientation the conference is expected to take.

“Lebanon is committed to the dissociation policy,” Bassil added.

Announced last month, Pomepo said the aim of the Warsaw conference was for "countries to all come together to focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to Pompeo’s announcement, making a comparison to the 1996 “Summit of Peacemakers” in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt.

“Reminder to host/participants of anti-Iran conference: those who attended last US anti-Iran show are either dead, disgraced, or marginalized. And Iran is stronger than ever,” Zarif tweeted with a photo of the 1996 conference

Among the leaders in the photo were Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Jordan’s King Hussein, US President Bill Clinton, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Zarif also lashed out at Poland for hosting the summit on February 13 and 14. “Polish Govt can’t wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus,” he said.Netanyahu has consistently warned about Iran’s hostile intentions and unfaithful nature for more than a decade, ultimately convincing US President Donald Trump that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was flawed and thus should be withdrawn.

Lebanon-based Hezbollah remains the most serious military threat facing Israel, with an estimated arsenal of some 100,000 and 120,000 short- and medium-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred long-range missiles trained on the Jewish State.Israel fought a devastating war against the group in 2006 that left well over a thousand dead, mainly in Lebanon.

Despite Israel professing a policy of non-interference in Syria's over six-year long civil war, it has carried out numerous air strikes on targets inside Syria over the last several years, chiefly targeting weapons and other supplies it considered destined for Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

Among the leaders In the photo were Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Jordan’s King Hussein, US President Bill Clinton, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Zarif also lashed out at Poland for hosting the summit on February 13 and 14. “Polish Govt can’t wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus,” he said.

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