Mariam Saleh: Tens of thousands of cheering Lebanese welcomed President Ahmadinejad on Wednesday, throwing rose petals and sweets at his motorcade, at the start of an official visit that underscores the deep-seated relations with the Lebanese nation. The political leaders of Lebanon along with representatives from various factions were also there, to greet Ahmadinejad and his high-ranking delegation. A show of support for Iran, especially its peaceful nuclear program, was made even more evident by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. Here is what he had to say in his meeting with Ahmadinejad.
Michel Suleiman: We are discussing the ways to further develop bilateral ties and methods to protect and develop our mutual interests. We also stress the need to unite in the face of rising challenges.
Mariam Saleh: On the first day of the visit, representatives of the two countries signed a number of agreements, some of which are in the fields of health, tourism, energy, water, culture, and trade. Despite Israeli threats and US disapproval, which came days before the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Beirut, the welcoming of the Iranian guests was quite rapturous. And the worlds of Ahmadinejad reflected a new era in state-to-state relations between Iran and Lebanon, and this was manifested concretely with several agreements in all sectors which the two states have signed. Ahmadinejad also held talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. He assured them that Tehran supports Lebanon’s political unity and security. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah had this to say about President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon.
Hassan Nasrallah: There are voices trying to picture Iran as a source of division, as a country which seeks to divide. I bear witness that the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most important guarantees for regional unity.
Mariam Saleh: Later in the day, addressing tens of thousands of supporters, President Ahmadinejad said, “As long as the Israeli aggression exists in the region, we will not see stability.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: They want to sow the seeds of discord among people that irrespective of their religious backgrounds have lived together in peace and harmony for centuries.
Mariam Saleh: The next stop for President Ahmadinejad is the visit to south Lebanon, where Hezbollah defeated the invading army of Israel in the 2006 war. Mariam Saleh, Press TV, Beirut.
Hassan Nasrallah (in Farsi): “Cheshm-e ma roshan. Kheili khosh amadid” (Pleased to meet you. You are very welcome).
Ahmadinejad and Suleiman’s Joint Press Conference
Hassan Nasrallah’s Speech
Mariam Saleh‘s report was broadcast by Press TV on 14 October 2010. See, also, Al-Akhbar‘s coverage of Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon. Cf. “Prime Minister Saad Hariri is currently hosting a lunch in honor of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Grand Serail according to a statement issued by the PM’s press office on Thursday” (“Lebanon PM Hosts a Lunch in Honor of Ahmadinejad,” Ya Libnan, 14 October 2010).