Iranian president likely to visit Lebanon's bordering zone with Israel

14:00, October 13, 2010      

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to start his two-day controversial visit to Lebanon on Wednesday and is likely to visit the southern Lebanese area that borders Israel, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that in the upcoming visit to Lebanon, the Iranian delegation, headed by Ahmadinejad, is likely to visit southern Lebanon, an area largely populated by Shiite Muslims supported by Iran and that borders Israel.

Iran supports Hezbollah, the Shiite Islamist political organization in Lebanon which is regarded as a resistance movement in Muslim world against Israeli policies in the region.

Besides meeting with the Lebanese officials, there will also be meetings with other political figures of Lebanon, Mehmanparast said, citing a schedule. Observers said Amadinejad's additional meetings may include the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

Ahmadinejad is also due to deliver an address during a scheduled rally in the southern town of Bint Jbeil, a few kilometers from the border with Israel.

The Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that Hezbollah is mobilizing a large number of people to welcome the Iranian guest who will visit the southern villages.

Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon will serve to boost economic ties between Iran and Lebanon and will help security of the entire region, Mehmanparast said at a regular press briefing.

The visit to Lebanon is at the invitation of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to enhance the cooperation between the two countries in diverse areas of politics, economy and culture, he said.

Letters of understanding are to be signed on trade, industry, environment and education during the visit, Mehmanparast added.

He said that Israel is not pleased with the cooperation between the regional countries because the regional cooperation is not in Tel Aviv's interests.

On Tuesday, a number of Lebanese ministers expressed their delight with Ahmadinejad's visit to their country, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Minister of Youth and Sports Ali Abdullah referred to the visit as important from different aspects and appreciated the great assistance offered by the Islamic Republic to his country, said the report.

Energy and Water Minister Gibran Bassil told IRNA that Ahmadinejad's upcoming visit would bring about positive achievements for the Lebanese nation.

Agriculture Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan said that the Iranian President will be accorded a warm welcome by the Lebanese people from various walks of life. Iran and Lebanon are two friendly countries, he said, adding that Iran is the main supporter of the Resistance Movement.

Tehran has recently announced its readiness to equip the Lebanese Army, the minister said, adding that the visit will be in line with further expansion of all-out ties between the two countries, according to IRNA.

Recently, Iran made a defense offer to Lebanon in the wake of a U.S. freeze in its military aid to Beirut earlier last month over concerns that the weapons could be used by Hezbollah, a group blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization.

Talking to IRNA on Tuesday, Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri said President Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon has nothing to do with the "Zionist regime (Israel)."

The visit will be a sign of solidarity between the two nations, he said, adding that the visit will create an opportunity for supporting the Lebanese national unity and stability.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Health Minister Muhammad Jawad Khalifa said the UN Security Council's sanctions against Iran's right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy, the compromise talks between Palestinians and the "Zionist regime," Iran's military aid to Lebanon and importance of Tehran's cooperation with the Persian Gulf states will top the agenda of talks between the two sides.

Minister of Administrative Reform Muhammad Fnaysh also welcomed the Iranian President's visit to his country and said the visit will be an indication of the common stand shared by the two countries regarding the conspiracies of the "Zionist regime," according to IRNA.

However, the United States and Israel have raised their concerns over Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon.

Last week, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that Iran's collaboration with Hezbollah meant to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty.

Also, Israel has urged the Lebanese government to prevent Ahmadinejad from visiting the Lebanon's southern border saying that it is considered by Israel as a provocative measure which could undermine regional stability.

Source: Xinhua


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