Iran FM meets French counterpart in Beirut

1st August 2006, Comments 0 comments

BEIRUT, July 31, 2006 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, whose country is one of the main backers of Hezbollah guerrillas battling Israeli forces, met his French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy in Beirut late Monday, officials said.

BEIRUT, July 31, 2006 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, whose country is one of the main backers of Hezbollah guerrillas battling Israeli forces, met his French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy in Beirut late Monday, officials said.

The meeting took place at the Iranian embassy as Douste-Blazy pressed efforts for a diplomatic solution to the three-week-old Israeli offensive in Lebanon.

Neither minister made any comment after their talks which lasted more than two hours.

Ahead of the talks, Mottaki implicitly criticised the United States for abetting the Israeli offensive.

"We consider any party which backs the Zionist enemy ... in its aggression ... and foils efforts to stop the aggression as partners and responsible for the crimes committed against Lebanon," he said after talks with his Lebanese counterpart Fawzi Sallukh, a Hezbollah ally.

He also criticised the United Nations and its agencies for failing to do more to halt the Israeli offensive, launched after Shiite militants of Hezbollah captured two soldiers in a deadly cross-border raid on July 12.

"After three weeks, those organizations did not do their duties toward that aggression," he said.

Earlier Monday, Douste-Blazy said Iran was a key player in the Middle East and "plays an important stabilising role" in the region.

"It is clear that we cannot accept a destabilisation of Lebanon that could lead to a destabilisation of the region. In the region there is a great country like Iran which is respected and which plays an important stabilising role in the region," he said.

"We think more than ever that the Iranians are an important and respected actor."

His comments came despite outspoken criticism of Iran from the United States which has accused the Islamic regime and its key regional ally Syria of arming Hezbollah and encouraging its attacks on Israel.

Iran insists it gives only moral support to the Shiite militant group.

Mottaki, who arrived from neighbouring Syria earlier Monday, was due to meet Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and parliament speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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