Iranian officials affirm support for Lebanese security

Hariri meets with Ahmadinejad and other top officials; Revolutionary Guard commander blames Israel for thwarted plane hijacking last week.

November 28, 2010 16:54
2 minute read.
Lebanese PM Hariri and Iranian VP Rahim in Teheran

Lebanese PM Hariri and Iranian VP Rahim 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi informed Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday of Teheran’s willingness to help the Lebanese army, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported on Sunday.

“Iran has always said that alongside the Lebanese army and resistance, it is ready to defend Lebanon,” he said, adding that Iran’s defense equipment and facilities served both Iran and “sustainable security in the region,” according to the report.

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Hariri later met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His visit follows Ahmadinejad’s October tour of Lebanon, during which he reinforced Teheran’s ties to Hizbullah, a longtime protege of the Shi’ite powerhouse. The exuberant welcome the Shi’ite Hizbullah staged for Ahmadinejad in Lebanon threw Hariri’s Western-backed factions in the government on the defensive.

After touchdown in Teheran, Hariri was greeted by Iranian Vice President Muhammad Reza Rahimi and reviewed an honor guard before meeting with Ahmadinejad and others.

At the event, Rahimi said, “Iran regards Lebanon’s peace and security as those of its own and defends Lebanese rights against aggressors and occupiers,” ISNA reported.

Also on Sunday, Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Ramezan Sharif blamed Israel for the thwarted hijacking of an Iranian Air flight this past Friday.

“Israel intended to use its mercenaries in the recent skyjacking affair to create a media hype against Iran,” Sharif said.

He added that “the president’s recent trip to Lebanon was a regional defeat for the Zionist regime,” PressTV reported.

Lebanon’s fragile unity government, which includes Hizbullah, has been struggling ahead of expected indictments by the UN tribunal investigating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination.

Speculation that Hizbullah members will be indicted in the case has fueled fears of a new political crisis and violence in Lebanon, and raised concerns over what Iran would do in that case.

In remarks in English, released by his office ahead of the Iran visit, Hariri underlined concerns for stability.

“Impairing the stability of any country of the region is a threat to the interests of Arabs and Iran at the same time,” Hariri said. “Therefore, I consider that Iran is concerned by all effort to provide elements of stability in all countries of the region, including Lebanon.”

Hariri was also expected to meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during the two-day visit, as well as with other top Iranian officials, Iranian state television reported.

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