Syria, Iran support Lebanon against Israel

Filed on August 11, 2010

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki underlined their joint support for Lebanon in the face of Israeli ‘aggression,’ state news agency SANA said.

The two met at Lattakia on Syria’s northern coast and discussed the situation in Lebanon ‘following the Israeli aggression against Lebanese sovereignty,’ it said.

They affirmed ‘their support for Lebanon in the face of such aggression,’ SANA said of an August 3 clash on the Lebanon-Israel border between the two countries’ troops.

Two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and an Israeli officer were killed in the fighting. Lebanon’s Syria- and Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah movement was not involved in the clash.

Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, has since said Teheran was ready to help the Lebanese army in a meeting with army chief General Jean Kahwaji, according to Iran’s official IRNA agency.

And on July 30, Assad made an unprecedented joint visit to Beirut with Saudi King Abdullah in a bid to defuse tensions after Hezbollah said members of the movement could be indicted for Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri’s 2005 murder.

In April, the United States accused both Syria and Iran of supplying Hezbollah with sophisticated missiles which could be used against Israel.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to visit Lebanon after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which has just begun, Mottaki said on Sunday.

The last visit by an Iranian president to Lebanon was by reformist Mohammad Khatami in May 2003, while Lebanese President Michel Sleiman visited Teheran in November 2008.

Mottaki and Assad also discussed the need to form a government of national unity in Iraq as soon as possible, ‘dangerous Israeli violations’ in occupied Palestinian territory and Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, SANA said.

In Damascus, Mottaki also met Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political chief of the Islamist Hamas group that rules in Gaza.

Assad also said he hoped to see ‘progress over the Iranian nuclear issue,’ reiterating his rejection of UN and other sanctions against Teheran over its controversial nuclear programme.

Iran is ready to discuss its nuclear programme with the United States, Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to the Islamic republic’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in Syria on Monday.

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