Ahmadinejad: We'll always support Palestinians

Ahmadinejad to Hamas Ir

ahmadinejad mashaal hamas 248 88 (photo credit: )
ahmadinejad mashaal hamas 248 88
(photo credit: )
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday reiterated his support for Hamas, during a visit by the Palestinian group's Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal, according to Iran's official news agency. "The government and the people of Iran will always stand by the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people," Ahmadinejad said during the meeting with Mashaal. "Today Palestine is symbol of the global front of freedom-seekers and militants." Mashaal was leading a Hamas delegation to Teheran, and was also set to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Next Monday Hamas will hold a rally in the Gaza Strip marking the 22nd anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Movement. On Thursday, Hamas called on the Palestinians to expect "surprises" during the rally, sparking speculation that its leaders may exploit the event to announce a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel. The rally, which is scheduled to take place at the Katiba Square in the center of Gaza City Monday afternoon, is expected to draw tens of thousands of Hamas supporters. Past events have often been used as a show of popular support for Hamas. Hamas representatives said this year's "celebration" would be different from past events because it would be held amid reports of an imminent prisoner exchange agreement with Israel. Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report