Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praises Hezbollah, lashes out at Israel
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday praised his allies in the Lebanese Hezbollah movement for standing up to Israel and lashed out at the Jewish state, DPA reported.
Addressing a huge rally in the Hezbollah-controlled south Beirut suburbs, Ahmadinejad described Lebanon as a "school of resistance and perseverance against tyrants," - a reference to the US and Israel.
Speaking on the first day of a two-day state visit, the Iranian leader referred to Israel as a "Zionist entity" that embodies "the deception of the capitalist world order and materialistic ideas."
"The only solution to solve the Palestinian issue is for the invaders (Israelis) of the occupied land is to leave, and give the Palestinians their rights and return all the refugees to their original land," Ahamdinejad told the cheering crowd.
He called on the United Nations to carry out its mission and force Israel to abide by the international laws and resolutions.
Referring to the US administration, Ahmadinejad said: "The best solution for you is to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iran and apologize to their people."
He also called for the release of four Iranian diplomats kidnapped in Lebanon during the 1982 Israeli invasion.
"We have confirmed information that those four Iranian diplomats are now in Israeli jails and we want them to be released," he added.
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Nasrallah Nasrallah greeted Ahmadinejad via video link and thanked him for his support.
"In Lebanon, Iran wants what the Lebanese people want: that it be an independent and sovereign people, present in the regional balance. There is no other Iranian project," Nasrallah said.
"The West has set itself against him (Ahmadinejad) because he says that Israel is an illegitimate state and must disappear," Nasrallah stressed.
The comments by Nasrallah came few hours after loyalists to the western-backed majority coalition issued an open letter to the president, accusing him of meddling in Lebanese affairs.
"You are attempting to interfere, just like others that came before you, in our affairs, where foreign interference was only used to manipulate Lebanon internally," the letter said in reference to Syria.
Ahmadinejad, reportedly met with Nasrallah before the rally, according to Lebanese media.
The Iranian leader, who arrived earlier Wednesday, held talks with Lebanese officials and signed 13 bilateral agreements.
Observers say Ahmadinejad's visit is designed to show support for Hezbollah, which is strongly backed by Tehran, but listed as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.