BEIRUT (Sputnik) – A political solution to the Syrian crisis should necessarily include the withdrawal of all armed forces that are in Syria illegally, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday.
"Any political decision in Syria should include the mandatory withdrawal of all armed forces that entered without the permission of the government," Zarif, who became the first foreign minister to visit Lebanon after the creation of the new government said during a joint press conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
In turn, Bassil said that Lebanon advocated a political settlement to the crisis.
"We support the soonest possible political settlement for Syria. The Astana process is important for Lebanon in terms of stability and creation of conditions for the return of refugees," he added.Lebanon, with its population of 4 million, has been hosting nearly 950,000 officially registered Syrian refugees, according to UN figures. Various other sources have suggested that, in reality, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon could be as high as 1.5 million.
The Lebanese authorities have repeatedly said that the influx of refugees had significantly damaged the country's economy and security, calling on the global community to help encourage their return to Syria.