Top Iran diplomat in first official meeting with Lebanon PM

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam (R) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on August 11, 2015 at the Government Palace in the capital Beirut (AFP Photo/Anwar Amro) (AFP)

Beirut (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam in Beirut Tuesday, in their first official meeting.

"We value the major role played by the prime minister in providing security, fighting terrorism and creating cooperation," Zarif told a press conference after the 35-minute meeting.

The remarks were carried by Al-Manar, the television of the powerful Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran.

Zarif stressed the importance of coordination between Iran and Lebanon on issue of "regional peace and stability."

He also appeared to address Lebanon's fractious political class, saying "today is not the day for competition and rivalry, but the competition should be to build Lebanon."

Zarif made no specific mention of discussions on the Syrian crisis, which a spokeswoman had earlier said would be part of the talks.

An official who attended the meeting said Salam and Zarif discussed Lebanon's ongoing presidential vacuum and agreed there should be more discussion on this topic.

Zarif arrived in Beirut Tuesday for a two-day visit. He is set to meet Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and parliament Speaker Nabih Berri Wednesday.

Zarif said he hoped for "more cooperation between the Lebanese and Iranian governments and people, so that this new beginning for our region will be good for regional countries."

Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told official news agency IRNA that Zarif's visit to Beirut would include discussions on "bilateral issues, regional events, and the terrorism and extremism crisis."

He is also expected to discuss "Iran's new plan to help solve the Syrian issue," Afkham is quoted as saying.

The top diplomat will continue on to Damascus in his first visit to the Syrian capital.