Iran hosts Lebanese defense minister (AP) Associated Press) By NASSER KARIMI TEHRAN, IRAN 02/26/12 8:12 am ET)
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TEHRAN, Iran – Iran´s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with
Lebanon´s visiting defense minister on Sunday, telling him that
Beirut and Tehran should work toward unity to confront the west and
Israel, the country´s official news agency reported.
The visit comes amid an apparent move by Tehran to strengthen its
regional ties, as it faces both pressure from the West over its
nuclear program and the possible loss of a key ally, Syria´s
President Bashar Assad.
Ahmadinejad told visiting Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn
to "resist the plots" of "domination-seeking powers," IRNA said.
Ghosn is a member of the Christian political party Marada, which is
allied with Tehran´s main partner in Lebanon, the Shiite Hezbollah
movement. Marada and Hezbollah are also closely linked to Syria´s
embattled President Bashar Assad, who is traditionally a major power-
broker in Lebanon but faces an uprising against his rule.
"Friendships and brotherhood should be improved," Ahmedinejad said.
He claimed Israel would carry "a massacre against all nations of the
region" if it could. "Therefore, we should support and stand by each
other more than before."
Ghosn said "Lebanon will never forget that Iran stood by them in
great difficulties." He said Israel would fear Iran´s reaction,
should it consider moving in ahostile way against any regional
Israel and Iran consider each other arch-enemies, and tensions have
risen dramatically as Tehran pushes ahead with uranium enrichment and
other aspects of its nuclear program. Israel and the West say Iran
wants to develop weapons, while Tehran says the program is for
Tehran has blamed the recent assassinations of nuclear scientists on
Israel. It also faces the possibility of Israeli airstrikes against
its nuclear facilities. Israel says the military option must remain
on the table.
Israelis say that Iran may retaliate against such a strike through
proxy, by pushing Hezbollah to use its arsenal of rockets against the
Such an action however risks triggering another Israeli-Lebanese
conflict, such as the 2006 border war between Hezbollah and the
Ghosn also met Sunday with Iran´s defense minister Gen. Ahmad
Vahidi. "Strengthening Lebanese army is among strategic policies of
Iran," the Iranian minister said. "Lebanon should have a strong army
to defend its interest in the region."
In return Ghosn said, "Right now there is a complete coordination
between army and the resistance," a term often used by Hezbollah to
refer to itself.
Earlier on Saturday, Gen. Vahidi said that an Israeli attack on Iran
will lead to the collapse of the Jewish state.
Iran has also recently hosted visits by leaders from the Palestinian
militant movement Hamas. Iran has been alarmed by Hamas´ outreach to
Sunni Arab states in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings, which
have brough Islamists to political prominence and pushed Hamas
leaders to relocate from their longtime headquarters in Syria. (©
2012 The Associated Press 02/26/12)
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