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UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

'Security measures' prevented Lebanese flag from entering Mikati-Raisi meeting, Bou Habib says

'Security measures' prevented Lebanese flag from entering Mikati-Raisi meeting, Bou Habib says

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati during his meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in New York. (Credit: Dalati and Nohra)

BEIRUT — "Exceptional security measures" surrounding US President Joe Biden's attendance of the United Nations General Assembly in New York Wednesday were to blame for the lack of a Lebanese flag at a meeting between Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, according to a tweet by the Grand Serail. 

When Mikati and Raisi met Wednesday night on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly, only an Iranian flag could be seen behind the two officials, sparking criticism from Lebanese social media. 

In a tweet shared by the Grand Serail, caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, who was part of the Lebanese delegation that attended the UN Assembly, stated that the appointment with the Iranian president was set shortly before the meeting was held, and "was even delayed half an hour in order to bring the Lebanese flag from the headquarters of the Lebanese mission to the United Nations."

However, the "exceptional security measures that accompanied the attendance of US President Joe Biden at the United Nations General Assembly" made it impossible to deliver the flag to the place of the meeting. 

The controversy surrounding the flag erupted on social networks as some accused Iran of having an influence on the Lebanese political scene via Hezbollah, which Iran is funding and supporting.

Bou Habib met his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Tuesday in New York, where Amir-Abdollahian had reaffirmed Iran's willingness to supply Lebanon with fuel, and "any other aid that the country requests in order to overcome its problems."

On Monday evening, the Iranian embassy in Beirut announced that "Iranian ships filled with fuel will be ready to sail towards Lebanon in one or two weeks and [will] arrive in any port that Lebanon chooses."

Lebanon has struggled with power outages for decades, but its economic collapse since 2019 has drained state coffers, slowing fuel imports. Most of the country is supplied with state electricity for only one or two hours a day. Consumers instead must rely on private generators despite surging costs.

Last year, Iran sent fuel to Lebanon via Hezbollah, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and some other Western nations. That fuel was shipped to Syria and then brought into Lebanon in trucks to avoid sanctions. The US did not take any action in response.



BEIRUT — "Exceptional security measures" surrounding US President Joe Biden's attendance of the United Nations General Assembly in New York Wednesday were to blame for the lack of a Lebanese flag at a meeting between Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, according to a tweet by the Grand Serail. When Mikati and Raisi met Wednesday night on...