Ahmedinejad praise for Hizbollah in Lebanon

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad started his two-day visit to Lebanon by praising Hizbollah, the terrorist group backed by Iran, for standing up to Israel.

The president was due to make a provocative trip to Lebanon’s border with Israel during his brief stay.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper meanwhile quoted an unnamed Israeli official describing Ahmedinejad’s visit as being like “a commander inspecting his troops”.

The Israeli government sought to counter the visit by sending diplomatic messages to Lebanon via America, France and the United Nations to avoid provocative actions along their common border.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak commented: “Ahmadinejad's visit clearly reflects Hezbollah's growing dependence on Iran and the fact that Lebanon has gradually ceased to be a normal country, where its interests govern its policy, and has somewhat turned into a tool manoeuvered by external powers.”. The former Prime Minister added that the Israel Defence Forces and Israel's intelligence agencies were “keeping our eyes open”.

America also expressed concern over Ahmadinejad's visit, saying support for Hezbollah militants undermines Lebanese sovereignty.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We reject any efforts to destabilize or inflame tensions within Lebanon. We would hope that no visitor would do anything or say anything that would give cause to greater tension or instability in that country.”

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement that Ahmadinejad “continues his provocative ways, even as he leaves his country in further economic stress and turmoil as a result of his actions that have led to international sanctions that are having a great impact”.

Gibbs was referring to UN Security Council sanctions on Iran over its ongoing refusal to talk openly about its nuclear activities. Tehran has claimed that the program is purely for peaceful purposes.

    Last updated: 9:37am, October 14 2010