Ahmadinejad Pledges Lebanon Support

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(Source : english.aljazeera) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has pledged to stand by Lebanon in confronting what he called hostilities from Israel. During a visit to Lebanon - the first official state visit to the country by an Iranian president - Ahmadinejad also extended Tehran's unstinted support to an "unified Lebanon and its government". "The Iranian nation will always stand beside the Lebanese nation and will never abandon them ... We will surely help the Lebanese nation against animosities, mainly staged by the Zionist regime [Israel]," he said on Wednesday. Ahmadinejad was given a tumultuous welcome on arrival by thousands of Shia Muslims who lined the road from the airport, throwing rice and petals at his motorcade. He was attending a meeting in the evening in the suburbs of Beirut, an area that is a stronghold of the Shia group, Hezbollah. Even though the Iranian president was on an official visit, Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, said that Wednesday night's event was not organised by the state. Khodr said Hezbollah leaders have told her that the rally was arranged by the group to "thank the Iranian leader for the political as well as the financial support the Islamic Republic of Iran provided, particularly to Hezbollah supporters, after the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war".Ahmadinejad's trip has raised concerns in Washington, which wants to isolate Iran over its nuclear programme and says Iran's support for Hezbollah fighters undermines Lebanese sovereignty. Israel was also very critical, with Yigal Palmor, its foreign minister, saying the visit was "imbued with a message of confrontation and violence". Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said that the visit comes at a sensitive time for Lebanon due to an investigation into the 2005 killing of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former prime minister. "The country is going through some rough times, and tensions are running high. Some are concerned that the country is sliding towards anothe