A visit of defiance and agitation? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke with Arab leaders on the phone Tuesday night ahead of a scheduled visit to Lebanon, and attempted to quell fears that the two-day tour is aimed at agitating the situation in the country and encouraging Hezbollah to take control.
IRNA reported that Ahmadinejad spoke with the leaders of Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan on the phone and discussed efforts to strengthen the unity of Lebanon. He told his colleagues he was positive that his visit to Lebanon would "strengthen the resistance of the nations in the region" against their enemies.
During his call to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ahmadinejad noted that "in spite of enemy actions and plans, the relationship between the countries in the region, especially Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, are expanding daily".
Ahmadinejad told the Saudi king that "there is no doubt that the coordination between the prominent countries in the region, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, would strengthen the calm and stability in the region, especially in Lebanon".
Due to the strain in Beirut ahead of Ahmadinejad's first visit to Lebanon, scheduled for Wednesday, Iran's ambassador to Beirut noted that there were "no security fears" surrounding the visit. He claimed that "the people of Lebanon are eagerly awaiting Ahmadinejad's visit".
The ambassador noted that dozens of bouquets and letters from all around Lebanon were arriving at the embassy in Beirut. He added that in the letters, the Lebanese referred to Ahmadinejad as the man who fought against the "Zionists".
Ahmadinejad will be accompanied by a business delegation, sources say that he is set to announce significant economic investments in Lebanon, which will include, among other things, funding infrastructure to search for oil and promote an arms deal with the Lebanese army.
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