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What’s behind Zarif’s visit to Beirut?

An Iranian diplomat shared with Al-Monitor some behind-the-scenes information regarding the Iranian foreign minister’s visit to Beirut and its implications for Lebanon and the region.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) talks with Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam upon his arrival at the Government Palace in Beirut, Lebanon August 11, 2015. Zarif visits Lebanon for the first time since Iran reached an agreement with world powers on the country's nuclear program. REUTERS/Aziz Taher  - RTX1NXWG
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Although his visit to Beirut was short, analysts are still tackling the meanings and messages behind Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to the Lebanese capital Aug. 11-12. Zarif was no longer a mere ordinary guest, given the role he played in reaching a nuclear agreement between his country and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1). Iran is also no longer an ordinary Middle Eastern country following the nuclear deal that added a growing regional and international dimension to its role.

During the nearly 24 hours that Zarif spent in Beirut, he met with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam, parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Defense Minister Samir Mokbel and a delegation representing Palestinian factions officials residing in Lebanon. Add to this the habitual visit carried out by all senior Iranians visiting Beirut, namely to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. This visit receives little media coverage, takes place at night and is always made public by a statement issued by Hezbollah accompanied by images published by its media offices alone.

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