Best buddies – Ahmadinejad and Suleiman
Photo: AFP
Ahmadinejad in Lebanon: I feel right at home
Iranian president welcomed by cheering masses on streets of Beirut, says Palestinian refugees should return to their 'occupied homeland.' Iran wants Lebanon to be united and strong, Ahmadinejad says
Feeling right at home: Visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to forego a helicopter ride from Beirut's airport, instead opting to head to the Lebanese presidential palace on the roads.


Iran's leader was welcomed by cheering masses on the streets who threw rice and flowers in his direction, as he waved back at them from his armored car.


Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Lebanon with his wife, later met with local President Michel Suleiman. At the conclusion of the session the two headed to the presidential palace's backyard and planted a tree.


'We'll stand by Lebanon'

Following the meeting, Ahmadinejad thanked his hosts: "I would like to thank everyone, and especially the Lebanese people who came out to welcome their brothers. They showcased Lebanon's power and we thank them for that. I feel as though I'm at home, in my homeland among my brothers."


Turning his attention to the Iran-Lebanon relationship, Ahmadinejad said: "Lebanon changed the hostility equation in the region and tilted the balance in favor of its people. We are two peoples that love each other. We have joint interests. The discussions were positive and constructive, and we signed a series of agreements."


"We want Lebanon to be united and strong," he said. "We'll stand by it with all our power."


Iranian 'surprise'

Ahmadinejad ended his joint press conference with Suleiman with a "surprise." He said he granted Lebanon an advanced technological device developed by Iranian scientists that is only possessed by six countries in the world. For the time being, he did not say which device he was referring to.

Lebanon welcomes Ahmadinejad


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Meanwhile, Suleiman thanked the Iranian president for his country's support "in the face of Israeli aggression and the threats being uttered by it," and also for "rebuilding Lebanon following the July war."


The Lebanese president added: "We emphasized that states have a right to make use of nuclear capabilities for peaceful purpose, and Iran has this right to, via quiet dialogue and without any threats or violence against it."


As usual, the Iranian leader made sure to slam Israel, saying both Iranians and Lebanese "object to the occupation and crimes of the Zionist enemy."


"We object to all the acts of aggression undertaken by the Zionist entity," he said. "We back a return by Palestinian refugees to their occupied homeland. We endorse a bitter struggle against Zionist aggression."


Hagai Einav contributed to the story



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