Ahmadinejad Heads to Beirut for State Visit Oct 13
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is set to arrive in Beirut on October 13 for a two-day trip, his first official state visit to Lebanon since taking office in 2005.
He is scheduled to meet with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri and officials from the Hizbullah terrorist organization.
The Iranian president is expected to tour southern Lebanon on the second day of his visit. One of the planned stops is Maroun al-Ras, a town in which one of the fiercest battles was fought between IDF soldiers and Hizbullah guerrillas during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. According to Naharnet, Ahmadinejad will also tour Bint Jbeil, another 2006 IDF-Hizbullah battleground.
Israel has allegedly appealed to the Lebanese government through U.S., French and United Nations mediators to keep Ahmadinejad from visiting the country's border with the Jewish State. Israel fears any such visit might result in “provocations” by the Iranian president, who according to a report in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, has threatened to hurl rocks at Israeli soldiers across the border fence.
Last week Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Israel is “extremely worried” about Ahmadinejad's tour of the border area.
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams reportedly met Friday in the Lebanese capital with Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Roknabadi to discuss the upcoming visit.
According to the Iranian state-run IRNA news agency, Williams allegedly “hailed” Tehran's “balanced approach and inclusive relations with all political and religious parties in the country.” Dr. Ahmadinejad will bear a message of peace, stability and unity for the Lebanese,” Roknabadi also told the news agency.
The Iranian envoy reportedly asked the U.N. envoy to take “serious and practical steps” to end reconnaissance flights by Israel Air Force planes in Lebanese airspace.