AFP: Iran on Monday expressed bewilderment at comments made by the French foreign minister over Tehran’s role in Lebanon, saying it feared the remarks showed a lack of understanding. TEHRAN, July 30, 2007 (AFP) – Iran on Monday expressed bewilderment at comments made by the French foreign minister over Tehran’s role in Lebanon, saying it feared the remarks showed a lack of understanding.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had said on Sunday that pressure had to be exerted on Iran and its main regional ally Syria to avoid a “war” breaking out in Lebanon.
“We hope that his comments were not correctly translated. Because otherwise doubt would be cast over his realistic understanding of Lebanese affairs,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said.
“Mr. Kouchner surely is aware that it is the Americans and some of their approaches that have become an obstacle in finding a solution and not any other sides,” he said, according to the IRNA agency.
Kouchner met the representatives of Lebanon’s feuding factions around the same table but made little apparent headway in resolving the deepening political crisis in the country.
The resignation last November of six pro-Syrian ministers, five of them Shiite, sparked the current political standoff, the country’s worst since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
France has taken the lead in trying to resolve the crisis, gathering all the parties for a conference near Paris earlier this month and sending a top envoy to the region for consultations with all the key players.
The Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, leads the opposition to the Western-backed government in Beirut. Last summer, it fought a devastating 34-day war with Israel.
Earlier this month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Syria where he met with its chief Hassan Nasrallah. Ahmadinejad mocked Israel and called for Lebanese unity.
Though the West accuses Iran of delivering arms to Hezbollah, Tehran maintains it merely offers moral support and aid for reconstruction efforts in southern Lebanon.