Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani dismisses US ceasefire proposal for Gaza

Kani calls for end in aid to Israel on first visit to Beirut, where he was expected to meet Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah

Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, right, with Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani in Beirut on Monday. AFP
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Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani criticised the US ceasefire proposal for Gaza and called on Washington to end its aid for Israel.

He was speaking after he met senior Lebanese officials in Beirut on Monday on his first official trip since taking on the new role.

“If the Americans are honest, then instead of proposing plans under the name of ceasefire, they must take one step, which is end all aid to the Israeli entity,” Mr Kani said from the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

“Only once the aid is cut from the Israeli entity, the entity won't have the tools and ability to commit crimes against the Palestinians and the war will end.”

The timing of Mr Kani's visit was not a coincidence, a source in Beirut said, after US President Joe Biden's comments last Friday on ending the war on Gaza.

Mr Biden had urged Hamas and Israeli leaders to not "lose this moment" in an effort to find peace.

Mr Biden's proposal offered a way to a permanent ceasefire and an end to the war that has claimed the lives of more than 36,400 Gazans and injured more than 82,400 since Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip.

The offensive was in retaliation to Hamas's deadly attacks on Israel on October 7 that killed about 1,200 people.

Mr Kani discussed the continuing Israeli bombardment of Gaza and the conflict in south Lebanon as he held talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib. He is expected to meet Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah.

Both foreign ministers reiterated their criticism of Israel's actions against the Palestinian people in Gaza as they discussed a path for peace in south Lebanon.

Iranian state media said Mr Kani would discuss regional developments, especially the situation in Palestine.

The visit came as Hezbollah and Israel engage in daily cross-border exchanges of fire in south Lebanon, which have gradually increased in intensity and scope.

It also comes amid efforts to find peace in south Lebanon and to delineate the contiguous land border there with Israel.

Mr Kani warned Israel against an offensive on south Lebanon, pointing to the strength of Hezbollah which is much more potent that Hamas.

“The entity which is trapped in the swamp in Gaza, if it had the basic rationality, shouldn’t put itself in a similar situation with the strong Lebanese resistance,” he said.

Joint initiative

Mr Kani said he and Mr Bou Habib agreed that regional countries should adopt a joint initiative to stop Israel's violence against the Palestinian people and to protect them.

Mr Kani reaffirmed “Iran's long-standing commitment to stability, security and development in Lebanon".

Mr Bou Habib said "the continuation of the war on Gaza, and the ongoing crimes against the Palestinians" by Israeli undermined the search for stability and security in the region.

He reiterated the Lebanese government's long-held position that it does not want the conflict in south Lebanon to continue and that it is looking for "sustainable solutions that restore calm and stability to southern Lebanon".

While Lebanon is technically in a state of war with Israel, the government has said it does want there to be conflict.

However, it is largely powerless to control Hezbollah in the south. About 100,000 people have been displaced by the conflict there.

At least 60,000 people have been displaced in northern Israel by the conflict. Israel wants to push Hezbollah away from the border area – whether diplomatically or through other methods – so residents of northern Israel can return.

Helicopter crash

Mr Kani was appointed to the job after Hossein Amirabdollahian was killed in a helicopter crash last month in Iran that also claimed the life of president Ebrahim Raisi.

He was previously deputy foreign minister and served as Iran's lead nuclear negotiator in indirect talks with the US.

After Lebanon, he will visit Syria.

Iran is a major supporter of Hezbollah, a Lebanese armed group and political party, which is part of the Tehran-backed Axis of Resistance that is characterised by its opposition to Israel.

Hezbollah said it would not cease its attacks until Israel stops its assault on the Gaza Strip.

Mr Amirabdollahian last visited Beirut in February.

Updated: June 03, 2024, 5:57 PM