Saad Hariri Says He Wants Best Relationship with Iran

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that Lebanon must deal with Iran, but added that he would like the best relationship with Iran. Hariri made the statement in Davos during a panel at the World Economic Forum, CNBC reported.

“Iran is a country that we need to deal with. Each nation must understand how it wants to deal with Iran,” Hariri told the attendees.

Hariri is a Sunni and dual Lebanese-Saudi national. He took office two years ago in a power-sharing agreement with President Michel Aoun, who is a Maronite Christian favored by Hezbollah. Hariri became Prime Minister after two years during which his country essentially had no government.

Hezbollah, Shia militant, and a political group is the most powerful wing of Hariri’s government. Hezbollah has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States. The group is funded and armed by Iran and Iran uses it to extend its influence in Lebanon.

“I as a prime minister would like the best relationship with Iran, but I would like it to be, state to state. Not for somebody to invest in Lebanon without telling me on this issue, like Hezbollah or others. Iran presents a challenge in the region maybe, but dialogue also is a part of resolving this issue,” Hariri said.

Hariri is supported by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are archly opposed to Iranian influence in Lebanon and the Middle East. The escalating conflict of regional interests took center stage in November when Hariri announced his resignation from Riyadh.

Many thought that he was forced to do that by the Saudi Kingdom and the alleged Saudi measures were viewed as a response to a political compromise in which Hariri took up leadership in exchange for allowing Hezbollah military autonomy. Afterwards, Hariri got back to his homeland and rescinded his resignation.