Iranian President starts Lebanon visit
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, leading a senior politico-economic delegation, arrived in Beirut Monday morning to review expansion of bilateral ties as well as the latest regional and international developments with high-ranking Lebanese officials.
President Khatami is in Beirut on the first leg of a four-nation regional tour that will also take him to Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. The visit is "historical" as it is the first by an Iranian president to Lebanon since 1979.
The Iranian president arrived in Beirut's international airport and was welcomed by his Lebanese counterpart, Emile Lahoud, and other high-ranking officials of the country.
Later, tens of thousands of Shiite Muslims whistled, cheered and waved flags as Khatami drove through the streets of Beirut.
In a commentary published in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir on Monday, Khatami said the American and British troops should immediately withdraw from Iraq and allow the "formation of a popular government."
Khatami said the US-led forces had suffered a moral defeat in Iraq. "And the greatest mistake will be if the invasion forces attempt to impose on the (Iraqi) people a system that is immoral and alien," he said.
He said the American people "must not allow a special group with false ideas and dangerous ways of operating to use their national capabilities to preserve its own private interests."
In an interview with the official Iranian news agency on Sunday, President Lahoud said Khatami's visit would shore up support for Lebanon as a center for resistance against Israel.
While in Beirut, Khatami is to deliver a lecture to
Lebanese intellectuals and cultural figures in Beirut's UNESCO Hall. During his three-day stay in Beirut, the two countries are to issue a joint statement and sign several agreements on bilateral cooperation in various fields including customs, the environment, women and youth.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Ali Abdolalizadeh, Minister of Economy and Finance Tahmasb Mazaheri and some other Iranian officials are accompanying President Khatami in this regional tour. (Albawaba.com)
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