Beirut: Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad on Wednesday hailed Lebanon`s resistance in the face of
Israeli "aggression" as he began an official visit that will
take him to the border of the Jewish state.
Ahmadinejad was showered with rice and rose petals by
tens of thousands of Hezbollah supporters who lined the roads
as his convoy made its way from the airport to the
"We fully support the resistance of the Lebanese
people against the Zionist regime and we want full liberation
of occupied territory in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine," the
hardline leader said at a joint press conference with his
Lebanese counterpart Michel Sleiman.
"As long as (Israeli) aggression exists in the region,
we will not see stability," he added.
The two leaders today signed a number of agreements in
the health, tourism, energy, water and other sectors.
Ahmadinejad, whose visit is seen as a boost for key
ally Hezbollah, the most powerful military and political force
in Lebanon, said Iran stood ready to assist the small
Mediterranean country in all fields.
"Lebanon is not only a source of pride for the
Lebanese but for the region," he added. "Because Lebanon has
changed the balance of power in favour of the people of the
Hezbollah fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006
which killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, most of them civilians,
and more than 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.
Ahmadinejad ducked a question about criticism of his
plans to tour south Lebanon tomorrow, near the volatile border
Members of Lebanon`s pro-Western parliamentary
majority have denounced the visit as a bid to portray the
country as "an Iranian base on the Mediterranean."
The United States and Israel, which have sought to
isolate Iran over its nuclear programme, have also expressed
Ahmadinejad`s first visit since his election in 2005
highlights the clout Iran wields in Lebanon through Hezbollah,
considered Tehran`s proxy, and comes at a sensitive time in
politically turbulent Lebanon.