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AFP
August 15, 2020

Beirut aid should not be tied to political change: Iran

World

AFP
August 15, 2020

BEIRUT: Iran´s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday that aid for Lebanon after last week´s blast should not be tied to political change, after Western donors pressed politicians for deep-rooted reforms.

The catastrophic Beirut explosion on August 4 killed 171 people, injured thousands and laid waste to whole neighbourhoods. "We believe that it is the state and the people of Lebanon who must decide the future of Lebanon and how to move things forward," Zarif said, after meeting his Lebanese counterpart Charbel Wehbe in Beirut.

"Others should not condition their aid on any change in Lebanon during this emergency situation," he said, in what was seen as a reference to Western leaders. "In our opinion, it is not humane to use the pain and suffering of people for political ends," he said.

Zarif´s visit coincided with those of US envoy David Hale and French Defence Minister Florence Parly. They also met Lebanese officials on Friday. Prime minister Hassan Diab´s government, formed in January with the support of the powerful Iran-backed Hizbullah movement and its political allies, stepped down on Monday.

The process to form a new government could take months. During their visits, both Hale and Parly stressed that aid offered will go directly to non-governmental groups on the ground, largely bypassing Lebanon´s traditional elite. The blast reignited street protests demanding the ouster of leaders widely viewed as corrupt and incompetent.