BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran welcomed the election of Michel Aoun as Lebanon’s new president on Monday, calling it a victory for the Shi’ite group Hezbollah, Tehran’s ally in Lebanon.
Aoun, a leader of Lebanon’s Christian community, secured the post in a parliamentary vote, ending a 29-month presidential vacuum in a deal with Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri, who is now expected to become prime minister.
“The election of Michel Aoun as president shows new support for the Islamic resistance (against Israel),” Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top foreign policy adviser, was quoted as saying by Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
“This is surely a victory for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of (Hezbollah and) Islamic Resistance in Lebanon.”
Iran helped create Hezbollah in the early 1980s, when it fought Israeli forces that had invaded Lebanon.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Aoun, a former army commander, in a phone call, an official in Rouhani’s office tweeted, calling it a victory for resistance and for ethnic tolerance in Lebanon.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also called Aoun to congratulate him, the group’s al-Manar TV station reported.
Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Tom Perry and Andrew Roche
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