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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves to the crowds from the sunroof of his SUV upon his arrival in Lebanon on Wednesday. Thousands of cheering Lebanese welcomed the Iranian President, throwing rose petals and sweets at his motorcade at the start of his visit — AP

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s emphasis on the resistance and consolidation of unity among the Lebanese has outraged Israel, says Iran’s ambassador to Beirut.

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“President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon is aimed at fostering unity among the Lebanese and calling all Lebanese to stand beside each other for resistance and that is why Israel is furious and has threatened Lebanon,” Ghazanfar Roknabadi told Lebanon’s al-Jadid TV late Sunday.

President Ahmedinejad arrives Lebanon to fanfare, rose petals and sweets

What we hear these days is that the Lebanese have welcomed the Iranian president and they courageously responded to Israel’s objection to his upcoming visit, Roknabadi added.

Tel Aviv has been trying to pressure Beirut into canceling President Ahmadinejad’s trip. Last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Tel Aviv was “extremely worried” about the Iranian chief executive’s visit.

Earlier on Tuesday, Leader of Lebanon’s Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun denounced as “disgraceful and offensive” the US and Israeli objection to the scheduled visit to Beirut by the Iranian president.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (l.) shakes hands with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman (r.) upon Ahmadinejad's arrival at the Lebanese Presidential palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, on Oct. 13. Hussein Malla/AP

“President Ahmadinejad is visiting Lebanon at the invitation of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and the visit has political and economic dimensions; therefore, a political and economic delegation will accompany him,” IRNA quoted Roknabadi as saying.

The Iranian envoy noted that 15 government organizations in Iran and Lebanon are currently examining documents which are to be signed in Lebanon during Ahmadinejad’s trip.

Lebanon's Saad Hariri welcomes Iran's President Ahmedinejad

According to Roknabadi, the Iranian chief executive will meet with the Lebanese from all walks of life.

Angered by Lebanon’s warm reception of Iran’s president and the support of Arab leaders for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit, the White House has called the trip “provocative.”

Ahmadinejad arrived in Beirut on Wednesday for a two-day visit to hold talks with senior Lebanese officials and discuss regional issues as well as bilateral relations.

“He (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,” DPA quoted White House spokesman Robert Gibbs as saying on Wednesday.

This is while the US and its allies used their influence in the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over allegations that the country is pursuing a military nuclear program.

Iran says its nuclear program is completely peaceful and within the framework of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory. Iranian officials also maintain that sanctions have proven ineffective because of the country’s self-reliance.

Arab countries also welcomed and supported Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said on Wednesday that “God willing, the results of this visit will be met with an equal fervor of respect for Lebanese peace.”

In a phone conversation on Tuesday with the Iranian president, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz described Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon as a significant move and said the expansion of Tehran-Riyadh relations would benefit the entire Muslim world.

In a separate conversation, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also said on Tuesday that Ahmadinejad’s visit can help bring Lebanese factions closer together.


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