AFP: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Lebanon next month for the first time since taking office five years ago, a government source told AFP on Thursday.
BEIRUT (AFP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Lebanon next month for the first time since taking office five years ago, a government source told AFP on Thursday.
“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be visiting Lebanon from October 13 to October 14 and is expected to meet President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, parliament speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah officials,” the source said, asking not to be identified.
He said Ahmadinejad may also go to southern Lebanon, where tensions remain high after a deadly border clash last month between Lebanese and Israeli forces.
The trip is the Iranian hardliner’s first to Lebanon since he assumed office in 2005. He was re-elected president in a controversial vote last year.
The last visit by an Iranian president to Lebanon was by reformist Mohammed Khatami in May 2003. President Sleiman visited Tehran in November 2008.
Ahmadinejad met Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah during a visit to Damascus in February. Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed group which fought a devastating month-long war with Israel in 2006.
Ahmadinejad has warned that the Islamic republic will not stand idly by if Israel attacks Lebanon, and Iran has said it is ready to offer Beirut military aid following a request by Nasrallah.
His call for help came after the United States announced a freeze in military aid to Beirut after the border clashes.
US Congressman Howard Berman said on August 10 he was putting on hold 100 million dollars in aid as he could not be sure the Lebanese army was not working with Hezbollah, which Washington lists as a “terrorist” organisation.