Beirut: Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad`s expected tour of south Lebanon during his
official visit to the Mediterranean country was criticised as
a "provocation" by the largest bloc in parliament.
On the two-day visit from October 13, Ahmadinejad is
scheduled to meet his counterpart Michel Sleiman, Prime
Minister Saad Hariri and parliament speaker Nabih Berri.
The hardliner is due to meet on the sidelines with
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah -- a key ally whose powerful
party is considered a proxy of Iran -- and tour the south of
the country, according to political officials.
"The message is that Iran is at the border with Israel,"
Fares Souaid,coordinator of the "March 14" alliance, told AFP.
"Ahmadinejad through this visit is saying that Beirut is
under Iranian influence and that Lebanon is an Iranian base on
the Mediterranean," added Souaid, whose coalition is led by
the Western- and Saudi-backed premier.
"His visit to the south would be a provocation, he
doesn`t need to go there."
The southern border region with Israel is largely
controlled by Hezbollah and was devastated during the 2006 war
between the militant party and the Jewish state.
A Hezbollah official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
told AFP Ahmadinejad would tour the villages of Cana and Bint
Jbeil as well as a new war museum in the region inaugurated by
Hezbollah earlier this year.
It will be Ahmadinejad`s first visit to Lebanon since his
Iranian officials have yet to confirm the visit or its