Iran's acting top diplomat visits Lebanon in first official visit since Raisi 's death

AP , Monday 3 Jun 2024

Iran’s acting foreign minister arrived in Lebanon Monday, his first official diplomatic visit since his predecessor, Hossein Amirabdollahian, along with the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash last month.

Iranian interim foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani speaks during a news conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib, after their meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, June 3, 2024. AP


Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that Ali Bagheri Kani would visit Lebanon and then Syria “to meet with the two countries’ officials as well as the officials of the resistance front to discuss ways to counter Israel.”

Bagheri Kani’s predecessor, Amirabdollahian, close to the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, died in a helicopter crash on May 19 in a mountainous area near Iran’s border with Azerbaijan, along with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and a delegation of other officials.

Bagheri Kani met with his Lebanese counterpart, Abdallah Bou Habib, on Monday and praised the “close relations” between the two countries. He told reporters that “resistance is the basis for stability in the region.”

“We agreed that all countries in the region, especially the Islamic countries, should adopt a joint movement in order to counter Israeli aggression and protect the Palestinian people, especially in Rafah,” he said.

Bou Habib said Lebanon, for its part, wants to avoid a wider war and is looking for "sustainable solutions that restore calm and stability to southern Lebanon."

Hezbollah has been clashing with Israeli forces along the Lebanon-Israel border since October, against the backdrop of Israel’s war on Gaza. The cross-border fighting has intensified in recent weeks, since Israel's incursion into the key town of Rafah in southern Gaza.

The border fighting has killed more than 400 people on the Lebanese side — including more than 70 civilians — and at least 15 soldiers and 10 civilians on the Israeli side.

An apparent Israeli airstrike on an Iranian consulate in Syria in April triggered a series of escalatory attacks between Iran and Israel that threatened to set off a wider war, although the two regional archrivals have recently seemed to dial back tensions.

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