Beirut: The Shiite militant group Hezbollah today called for a mass turnout to welcome Iran`s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he arrives on a two-day official visit to Lebanon next week.
"We call on you to welcome President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday at 7:30 am (1000 IST) all along the airport road," the group`s Al-Manar television broadcast over a
picture of a smiling Iranian leader.
"Lebanon is the country of resistance - welcome to your family," said the voice-over to the television spot, which was signed by both Hezbollah and Amal, another Lebanese Shiite party that is allied to the "party of God." Ahmadinejad`s October 13-14 visit is eagerly anticipated by Hezbollah, which is planning to give him a warm welcome as
well as a tour of the southern border region with Israel.
However, the trip has sparked controversy in Lebanon with some members of the pro-Western parliamentary majority calling it a provocation and the US also expressing concern. Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are set to appear together at a rally in a stadium in Hezbollah`s stronghold in southern Beirut.
The leader of Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organisation by Washington, lives in hiding and last appeared in public in July 2008. Nasrallah has been Israel`s public enemy number one since his Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shiite militant group fought a deadly month-long war against the Jewish state in the summer of 2006.
During his visit, Ahmadinejad is due to meet President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and parliament speaker Nabih Berri.