Iran Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
Strengthening the Lebanese military is a key Iranian strategic and regional policy, Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Vahidi told his Lebanese counterpart Faiz Ghosn, who was in Tehran Sunday in order to strengthen relations between the two nations.
“Lebanon must have a strong army to defend its interests in the region,” Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliate Al Manar quoted the Iranian defense minister as saying Sunday during a meeting with Ghosn in the Iranian capital.
Vahidi said the viability of both the Lebanese army and the "resistance movement" - a reference to Lebanese Hezbollah - would improve security and stability in the Middle East, according to the report.
Lebanon sits between Iran's strongest regional ally, Syria, and its archenemy, Israel. The latter nation has threatened to attack Iran over its nuclear program.
Israel has accused Iran of funding Hezbollah with advanced weapons and weapons technology to bolster the terrorist group's deterrence capabilities against the IDF. Iran denies the claims, but has voiced support for the terrorist group in its resistance to Israel.
Iran may also be seeking to improve its standing in the Middle East as Syria remains embroiled in a civil conflict with a homegrown opposition that is becoming increasingly militant.
The Lebanese defense minister expressed hope on Sunday that Lebanon and Iran would continue and build on an already longstanding cooperation.
He said he appreciated Iran's support of Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, which was fought primarily between Hezbollah's paramilitary forces and the IDF.
Ghosn said that were Israel to attempt any "stupidity in attacking Lebanon," it would encounter strong resistance from both the Lebanese army and Hezbollah.
The Lebanese defense minister also met with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his visit to Iran.