Lebanon to boycott Warsaw conference on Mideast, Iran

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif left is greeted by Lebanese Minister of State Parliamentary Affairs and a member of Hezbollah politicians block Mahmoud Qmati right on his arrival at Rafik Hariri Airport in Beirut Lebanon Sunday F

Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke to reporters Sunday at Beirut's airport shortly after his arrival in the Lebanese capital for a two-day official visit.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said last week he was ready to secure air defence systems for the Lebanese army from Iran to confront Israeli warplanes and to secure "everything it wants to be the strongest army in the region".

The United States, which lists Hezbollah as an armed terrorist group, backs the Lebanese army through a program that aims to strengthen the military as the sole military force defending the country.

Lebanon formed a new government last week after a nine-month vacuum that exacerbated the country's economic woes. The organization and its allies ultimately were given control over three ministries, including the health and finance portfolios, raising American concerns the Islamic Republic's Shiite underling will divert state funds to terror purposes. "We will always support the people and extend a helping hand in all frameworks possible, and we are ready to respond to the Lebanese government's request to cooperate with it in any vital area it deems appropriate", said Zarif according to Lebanese National News Agency (NNA).

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Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad-Jalal Firouznia voiced ahead Zarif's visit Tehran's readiness to "support the Lebanese army as we support the resistance".

He urged the government to take a "brave" stand and accept the offer extended to it.

Zarif, who arrived in Beirut on Sunday, is scheduled to hold talks with the Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Monday.

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