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Lebanon’s president stresses Iran’s key role in region

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun has stressed Iran’s significant role in the Middle East, saying the Islamic Republic is a regional power and part of the solution to the region’s woes.

Speaking at a meeting with the managing editors and chief editors of Lebanese TV stations on Monday, President Aoun emphasized that Iran played an influential role in helping resolve regional crises, referring to the Islamic Republic’s participation in peace talks for Syria in the Kazakh capital, Astana, and Geneva.

“Iran is present and has its influence in the Middle East and it must be taken into account,” he said.

The president also stressed that Iran has “no ambitions in Lebanon.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Aoun said, “We are a country that wants peace with all within the principles of mutual rights and interests,” but added that the country would defend itself against aggression.

Defending Hezbollah’s possession of weapons

Aoun also defended the Hezbollah resistance movement’s possession of arms.

He said that, while both the Lebanese government and Hezbollah were committed to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, the Lebanese government could not exercise a monopoly on the possession of weapons because of financial weakness and a shortage of weapons.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in Israel’s 2006 war of aggression against Lebanon, calls for the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon.

Tel Aviv launched wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. About 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, were killed in the 33-Day War of 2006. On both occasions, however, Hezbollah fighters defended the country and managed to force the Israeli forces to retreat without achieving any of their objectives.

Hezbollah, which has been in coordination with the Lebanese military, maintains that it needs to be armed in order to defend Lebanon against any potential future aggression by the Israeli regime.

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