Nasrallah: Hezbollah will not control next Lebanon government

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah

Lebanese president taps Hezbollah-backed candidate as next prime minister; Lebanese army reportedly arrests security officials of former PM Saad Hariri as demonstrations against Hezbollah ensue.

Jan 26 (KATAKAMI.COM / HAARETZ) — Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Tuesday that his organization will not be the leader of Lebanon’s new government, despite Hezbollah’s backing of the new Lebanese prime minister-designate, Najib Mikati.

“Hezbollah will not lead the next government… Najib Mikati is not a Hezbollah man,” Nasrallah said in a televised address to the people of Lebanon, in a bid to try to calm the ensuing riots in the country by supporters of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose government was recently toppled by Hezbollah.

Nasrallah assured that prime minister-designate Najib Mikati is an unbiased candidate, and said that a government with Mikati’s leadership is an opportunity to calm the political crisis in the country.

The Hezbollah chief urged Mikati to form a national partnership government and called on Saad Hariri and his aides to stand by Mikati and help him in forming a unity government “for the sake of Lebanon’s security.”

“We have supported the nomination of … Mikati and we call on him to form a national partnership government. The Lebanese have a chance to close ranks,” said Nasrallah.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri was defeated by Mikati at the end of a two-day consultation to choose a prime minister. Hariri has said he would not take part in the government if Mikati won.

Hezbollah and its allies toppled the government of the Western-backed Hariri two weeks ago, after he refused to reject an international tribunal into the 2005 assassination of his father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri. The United Nations-backed tribunal is widely expected to name members of Hezbollah in upcoming indictments, which many fear could reignite hostilities between Lebanon’s rival Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.

Meanwhile, the Arabic language Al Arabiya TV network reported Tuesday that the Lebanese army has arrested three senior officials in former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s security staff on suspicion of incitement.

Hundreds of supporters of Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri waved flags and burned tires across the country on Tuesday, calling for a “day of wrath” after  Hezbollah won enough support for its pick to replace him as premier.

Hezbollah’s Sunni rivals, who support Hariri, demonstrated for a second day across the country including the capital Beirut and the main highway linking the capital with the southern port city of Sidon. A senior military official said several armed men fired in the air in west Beirut, but the army intervened and dispersed them.

The largest gathering Tuesday was in the northern city of Tripoli, a predominantly Sunni area and a hotbed of fundamentalists where thousands of people converged at a major square. Al-Jazeera said none of its crew was injured when protesters attacked the station’s van.

Soldiers also clashed with demonstrators in the town of Naameh, south of Beirut, and two civilians were wounded, security officials said.  (*)

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Lebanese lawmakers back Hezbollah candidate for PM

Lebanese soldiers patrol Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut January 25, 2011. Hundreds of supporters of caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri protested in north Lebanon on Tuesday against the expected nomination of Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati to form the next government. Photo : REUTERS/ Sharif Karim

BEIRUT, Jan 25 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP)  – A majority of Lebanese lawmakers have voted to support thecandidate for prime minister backed by Iranian ally Hezbollah.

By the end of Tuesday’s voting, Najib Mikati had 68 votes. Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri had 60.

The Shiite militant group is now in position to control Lebanon’s next government. The move has set off angry protests and drew warnings from the U.S. that its support could be in jeopardy.

Thousands of Sunnis waved flags, burned tires and torched a van belonging to Al-Jazeera on Tuesday during a “day of rage” to protest the gains by Hezbollah.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE.

Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) — Thousands of Sunnis waved flags, burned tires and torched a van belonging to Al-Jazeera on Tuesday during a “day of rage” to protest gains by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which is on the brink of controlling Lebanon’s next government.

The largest gathering was in the northern city of Tripoli, a predominantly Sunni area and a hotbed of fundamentalists where thousands of people converged at a major square. Al-Jazeera said none of its crew was injured when protesters attacked the station’s van.

The protests come one day after the Iranian-backed Hezbollah — considered a terrorist organization by Washington — secured support in parliament to name its own candidate, former premier Najib Mikati, for the next prime minister.

The militant group’s Western-backed opponents maintain that having an Iranian proxy in control of Lebanon’s government would be disastrous and lead to international isolation.

Hezbollah’s Sunni rivals held protests across Lebanon, including the capital Beirut and the main highway linking the capital with the southern port city of Sidon. A senior military official said several armed men fired in the air in west Beirut, but the army intervened and dispersed them.

Many fear Lebanon’s political crisis could re-ignite sectarian fighting similar to Shiite-Sunni street clashes that killed 81 people in Beirut in 2008. But besides the protest in Tripoli, the gatherings Tuesday were mostly localized and not hugely disruptive.

Mikati urged calm Tuesday and said he wanted to represent all of Lebanon.

“This is a democratic process,” Mikati told reporters. “I want to rescue my country.”

Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman started a second day of consultations Tuesday with lawmakers to name a prime minister, but Mikati already has the 65 votes needed to clinch the position.

Hezbollah brought down caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Western-backed government on Jan. 12 when he refused the group’s demand to cease cooperation with a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hezbollah, which denies any role in the killing, is widely expected to be indicted.

The group can now either form its own government, leaving Hariri and his allies to become the opposition, or it can try to persuade Hariri to join a national unity government. In a speech Sunday night, Hezbollah leaderSheik Hassan Nasrallah said he favored a unity government.

Hariri said Monday he will not join a government headed by a Hezbollah-backed candidate. Hariri’s Future bloc declared a day of peaceful protests Tuesday — but called it a “day of rage” and played on the sectarian dimension of the conflict.

Lawmaker Moustafa Alloush said Monday night that Hezbollah is trying to “belittle the prime ministry” — a position that under Lebanon’s power sharing system is reserved only for Sunnis.

“Any person who accepts Hezbollah’s appointment of prime minister is a betrayal of the people of Tripoli,” Alloush said in a heated news conference, jabbing his finger toward the cameras.

The United States, which has poured in $720 million in military aid since 2006, has tried to move Lebanon firmly into a Western sphere and end the influence of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley warned Monday that continuing U.S. support for Lebanon would be “problematic” if Hezbollah takes a dominant role in the government, though he declined to say what the U.S. would do if Hezbollah’s candidate becomes prime minister.  (*)

Billionaire lawmaker may be Lebanon's next premier

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah

BEIRUT, Jan 24 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) – A billionaire businessman with close relations to Syria is emerging as a candidate favored by Hezbollah to head Lebanon’s next government.

Lawmaker Nagib Mikati, who served briefly as premier in 2005, says he is seeking the post as a candidate of “moderation and accord.”

Hezbollah brought down the unity government headed by Saad Hariri on Jan. 12 because of differences over a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Mikati made his announcement hours before formal talks between Lebanon’s president and lawmakers were to begin Monday to pick a new prime minister.

A moderate politician, Mikati enjoys good relations with Syria as well as the pro-Western Hariri, who is seeking to keep the post.

Hezbollah ready to form unity government again in Lebanon

Hezbollah and its allies are open to forming a new unity government for Lebanon should their candidate receive parliamentary support as prime minister, the Shi’ite group's leader Hassan Nasrallah (pictured) said Sunday.

Jan 24 ( KATAKAMI.COM / FRANCE 24) – Hezbollah and its allies are willing to be part of a new unity government with their rivals in Lebanon’s Western-backed political bloc if the candidate they are backing is chosen to be prime minister, the Shi’ite militant group’s leader said Sunday.

Talks on a new premier are to begin Monday, and Sheik Hassan Nasrallah appeared to be trying to calm tensions as the rift deepened between his group and a bloc led by caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Ministers from Hezbollah and its allies brought down the unity government Hariri had led on Jan. 12 because of differences over a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Many fear Hezbollah will react violently if its members are indicted, as is widely expected.

“In case the person we support is chosen to form the Cabinet we will work for this Cabinet to be a government of national unity,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “We do not seek to cancel anyone.”

That is significant because Hezbollah and its allies had appeared to be closing in on enough support in parliament to form a government on their own, if they had chosen to try to do so.

Hezbollah and its allies said they won’t back Hariri to form a new Cabinet during the two days of consultations that begin Monday. They have not publicly said whom they will name instead.

Nasrallah’s speech was seen as important sign of his movement’s mindset at a time when many fear the country’s political tension could descend into civil strife. His demeanor was calm and he emphasized that Hezbollah is working for change through constitutional means.

Nasrallah has said he expects members of his group to be indicted but has accused the Netherlands-based court of bias. The group has fiercely denied any role in the killing, and Nasrallah has said the group “will cut off the hand” of anyone who tries to arrest any of its members.

Also, Sunday Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim religious leaders warned Hezbollah not to ignore their sect’s opinion regarding their support for Hariri.

The clerics, led by Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, the Sunnis’ spiritual leader in Lebanon, said they support Hariri because he represents the majority of Sunnis.

“We warn against ignoring the Sunni majority and the parliament majority,” the leaders said in a statement. “We also warn against the dangers of an imposed government.”

Nasrallah appeared to reject such comments when he said that the prime minister’s post is “not a post of (sect) representation but a sovereign one.”

Nasrallah also thanked Walid Jumblatt, the influential leader of the Druse sect, for giving his support to Hezbollah and its allies at this “critical and sensitive moment.” It is not clear how many votes Jumblatt will give Hezbollah.

The support of at least 65 lawmakers is required to form a government in Lebanon’s 128-seat Parliament. Hezbollah and its allies already claim 57 seats. Saad Hariri has 60.

An indictment in the elder Hariri’s killing was filed last week but its contents likely will not be made public for weeks.  (*)

Nasrallah: US and Israel caused Lebanese gov't collapse

Photo File : Sheik Hassan Nasrallah

BEIRUT, Jan 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / JERUSALEM POST) — The leader of Hizbullah defended the decision to bring down Lebanon’s Western-backed government, saying the Shi’ite militant group did so without resorting to violence and will not be intimidated by world reaction.

In his first comments since the government collapse on Wednesday, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah also said Sunday that his bloc will not support Sa’ad Hariri returning to his post as prime minister in talks Monday on forming a new government.

“We carried out a constitutional, legal and democratic step to bring down the government. We did not use weapons,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “We are not scared of speeches, statements or anyone’s threats in this world.”

Eleven ministers allied to Hizbullah resigned from the Cabinet on Wednesday, enough to force the government to fall.

The crisis is the climax of long-simmering tensions over the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The court is expected to indict members of Hizbullah, which could re-ignite hostilities between Lebanon’s rival Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims. Rafik Hariri was a Sunni.

Hizbullah is Lebanon’s most powerful military force, with an arsenal that far outweighs that of the national army.

Sa’ad Hariri had refused Hizbullah’s demands to cease cooperation with the court, prompting Wednesday’s walkout.

Nasrallah’s speech was seen as important sign of his movement’s mindset at a time when many fear the country’s political tension could descend into civil strife. His demeanor was calm and he emphasized that Hizbullah will work for change through democratic means.

The US has denounced Hizbullah’s walkout as a transparent effort to subvert justice.

“The tribunal is an independent, international judicial process whose work is not subject to political influence, either from inside Lebanon or from outside,” US Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly said Sunday after meeting with Hariri. “The efforts by the Hizbullah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.”

Since his ouster, Hariri has tried to rally international support in the US, France and Turkey.

The leaders of Turkey, Qatar and Syria will meet in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Monday to discuss the political crisis, Turkey’s Anatolia news agency reported.

Lengthy negotiations lie ahead between Lebanon’s Western-backed blocs and the Hizbullah led-alliance. If those fail, Lebanon could see a resurgence of the street protests and violence that have bedeviled the country in the past.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman will launch formal talks Monday on creating a new government, polling lawmakers on their choice before nominating a prime minister. According to Lebanon’s power-sharing system, the president must be a Christian Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the parliament speaker a Shiite.

Each faith makes up about a third of Lebanon’s population of 4 million. (*)

Lebanese opposition agrees not to nominate Saad Hariri as PM: Hezbollah

Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is seen on broadcat screens at Hezbollah owned al-Manar TV in Beirut during his speech on January 16, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO (Photo credit should read ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIRUT, Jan. 17 (KATAKAMI.COM / Xinhua) — Leader of the Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday that the opposition had agreed not to nominate Saad Hariri for the post of prime minister in mandatory consultations scheduled on Monday, after the government collapsed as 11 ministers resigned last week.

“The opposition decided unanimously not to name Hariri tomorrow, ” the chief of Lebanon’s Shiite armed group said in a televised speech, while refusing to name their candidate for the post.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called for binding consultations with lawmakers on Monday to form a new government.

Hariri’s government collapsed on Wednesday after Hezbollah and their allies in the March 8 coalition resigned in a dispute over indictment expected to be issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which has been probing his father’s assassination.

The indictment, which the UN-backed court’s tribunal is expected to submit to Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen on Monday, is widely believed to implicate “rogue” members of Hezbollah.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah would reveal in the coming days its plan to defend itself against the indictment.

“We will not allow our reputation and our dignity to be tarnished,” he said.

“We will not permit anyone to conspire against us or to unjustly accuse us of killing (Rafic Hariri),” Nasrallah said in the speech.

The Hezbollah chief reiterated that the Netherlands-based STL was a U.S.-Israeli tool to target Lebanon’s resistance against Israel.

“We will act to defend our dignity, our existence and our reputation,” he said.  (*)

Lebanese-Iranian talks concluded with the signing of 9 agreements

Hariri had started his last day in Teheran with a meeting with the Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in the presence of the Lebanese delegation, and Mr Rahimi.

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The final statement: Support for the achievement of justice and determination to consolidate relations between the two states.

November 29, 2010 (KATAKAMI / PM Saad Hariri Official Website ) — The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri concluded his official visit to Tehran this afternoon with a joint press conference held with the Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi. The visit resulted in the signing of nine memoranda of understanding in the social and educational sectors.

An expanded meeting took place today at the Saad Abad Palace between the Lebanese and Iranian delegations headed by PCM Hariri and First Vice President Rahimi during which the results of the visit were discussed and the memoranda of understanding were signed in the presence of Hariri and Rahimi:

The Memoranda of Understanding that were signed are as follows:

1. A memorandum of understanding on the rehabilitation of disabled people signed by the Lebanese Minister of Social Affairs Salim Sayegh and the Iranian Minister of Welfare and Social Security Sadeq Mahsouli.

2. A memorandum of understanding on elderly care signed by Ministers Sayegh and Mahsouli.

3. A memorandum of Understanding in the field of child care services signed by Ministers Sayegh and Mahsouli.

4. A memorandum of understanding in the field of administrative reform signed by the Lebanese Minister of Administrative development Mohammed Fneish and the Iranian Minister of Housing and Development Ali Nikzad .

5. A memorandum of understanding on the protection of women and family affairs signed by Ministers Sayegh and Nikzad.

6. A memorandum of understanding in the fields of education and training signed by Minister Sayegh and the Iranian Minister of Education Hamid Reza Hajji-Babayee.

7. A memorandum of understanding in the field of cultural heritage signed by the Lebanese Minister of Culture Salim Warde and the Iranian Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Seyed Mohammad Hosseini.

8. A memorandum of understanding in the field of drug combat signed by Ministers Sayegh and Nikzad.

9. A memorandum of understanding on the cooperation between the Lebanese and Iranian Ministries of labor signed by the Lebanese Minister of Labor Boutros Harb and the Iranian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Abdol Reza Shaikhol –Eslami.

Joint press conference

After the signing of the MOUs, PCM Hariri and First Vice President Rahimi held a joint press conference during which Rahimi was asked about the impact of PCM Hariri’s visit on the relations between the two countries and whether Iran will play a role in easing tension in Lebanon regarding the Special Tribunal for Lebanon?

Rahimi said: Iran is very delighted with this blessed visit which will undoubtedly strengthen and support the foundations of the existing bilateral relations between our two countries. We highly appreciate the results of this visit because it will enhance the bilateral relations and the existing cooperation on the bilateral level. Thus, this visit comes immediately after the visit of President Ahmadinejad to Lebanon, and we see that it will enhance bilateral relations on all levels.

Regarding the tribunal, we do not see that the problems have reached this situation, and we believe that the wisdom and dexterity of PCM Hariri and of senior Lebanese figures can to contain and resolve this crisis easily, and we have full confidence in the wisdom and statesmanship of PCM Hariri to resolve all topics in this context and that the Lebanese government will solve all these problems. Concerning the Tribunal, the Islamic Republic of Iran supports the truth in its true sense, and we stress in this context the necessity for the International Tribunal to be very far from the political rhetoric, and to distance itself from this rhetoric, as we have also confirmed that we are with revealing the truth and solving the problems in this context.

We would like to emphasize as well that Iran always stands by the Lebanese unity and harmony, and we believe that all Lebanese groups and parties must unite and come together to resolve the quarrels on the Lebanese arena and to focus on their true enemy. Thus, we are with the unity and independence of Lebanon, as we are with strengthening the bonds of brotherhood between the Lebanese and we officially support this orientation.

Question: Prime Minister Hariri, how do you assess the results of your visit to Iran?

PCM Hariri said: “First, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the Supreme Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the President, the government and the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I want also to underline the good results we reached during our talks with His Excellency President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, First Deputy President Mr. Rahimi and all the other ministers.

This visit reestablishes a good stage in the Lebanese- Iranian relations, and I was able to personally follow-up some of its aspects through the successive visits carried out by Martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to Tehran. Today, we are following the same path and we continue to work for the development of relations between the two countries and follow up the steps which began with the recent visit of President Michel Sleiman to Tehran, and then the visit of His Excellency President Dr. Ahmadinejad to Beirut.

On this occasion, I would like to emphasize the following:

First: The political results of the visit were good and useful because they reaffirmed the common fundamentals of the relationship between the two countries, and that Iran is a friendly state that wants the best for Lebanon and all its citizens. And we, on behalf of the National Unity Government, which represents all the Lebanese people, express a national Lebanese will in building friendly and strong relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran based on common interests, mutual respect, and constant communication between the institutions and the concerned administrations in both countries.

Second: the economic results of the talks made great steps towards a serious and responsible dialogue, and we look forward for its continuation through the establishment of the higher joint Lebanese-Iranian Committee. This step comes together with the understandings that are agreed to implement during the next phase, including the electricity and gas sector, oil exploration, exchange of technical and vocational capabilities and the exchange of expertise in the field of administrative reform. The comprehensive economic vision which we heard from the Iranian leadership can be relied on for the sake of a wide–ranging economic and social development that would include in its positive results more than one Arab and Islamic state. Lebanon can constitute, with an equivalent Arab group, a vital chain of cooperation and coordination in the major regional economic positions, especially after the understanding which was signed by Lebanon, the Turkish Republic, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Kingdom of Jordan.

Third: Lebanon thanks the Islamic Republic of Iran for its support against the Israeli war and its repercussions on the Lebanese people in all areas and particularly commends the excellent support provided by Iran to our people in the South, the Bekaa, and the southern suburbs.

Fourth: The link between the Lebanese internal stability and the regional stability was at the core of the discussions we held. This necessitates reassurance on a number of political constants that stability should be based on, including Lebanon’s right to liberate its land in the South, Lebanon’s commitment to the implementation of Resolution 1701, considering the Arab peace initiative that was launched from Beirut the principle basis for the peace process in the region, and the refusal of the Israeli measures the latest of which was the referendum law on the withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Golan. There is also Lebanon’s declaration that it will not be part of any international group to put pressure on Iran and impose siege on the Iranian people. Lebanon also asserts Iran’s right to possess nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and calls on the international community not to spare any form of negotiations with the Iranian state for this purpose.

I know that you have questions about the internal situation and the Lebanese-Lebanese relations, therefore, I would like to assure everyone that the course of things is moving in the right direction and under two big umbrellas: the Lebanese national dialogue which will not be disrupted regardless of the tensed political rhetoric, and the joint and continued Saudi- Syrian support of the Lebanese issue. I am totally confident that the brotherly and friendly states, particularly the Islamic Republic of Iran, are accompanying this path with real responsibility and all the support that it deserves. Stability in Lebanon is the responsibility of the Lebanese in the first place, and the efforts of the brothers and friends are an added value to this responsibility. Thank you Mr. First Vice President and the media representatives for their attendance, and first and foremost, I thank the Iranian people and its leadership.”

The First Vice President said: In fact, we highly appreciate your current visit to Iran, and we salute the Lebanese Republic, because it defeated the enemy, we support a united, sovereign and independent Lebanon, and we are proud of Lebanon and its people. Our region and your region are related to the Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him and in fact, the fire which “alnamroudiyyoun” have sparked has gone and changed into paradise and happiness, and the fire they have set will burn them.

Today the fire of these enemies has reached us while you are among your brothers in Tehran, and assassinated this morning two Iranian scientists. Those who claim to be against terrorism are supporting terrorism and assassinating innocent people, and we will reveal their identities soon.

The Lebanese – Iranian friendship will blind the eyes of these terrible enemies and Lebanon will be more developed and proud, especially since it always stands victorious on the front lines.

I think it is my duty to offer sincere gratitude to Your Excellency and to the Lebanese leadership for the warm reception and generous hospitality received by President Ahmadinejad during his visit to Lebanon, and I must express my sincere thanking and appreciation to the ministers who accompanied you during this visit.

PCM Hariri said: Lebanon was honored to welcome President Ahmadinejad with hospitality as a token of appreciation to what Iran has offered to Lebanon and hopefully these relationships will last. As for the martyrdom of the two scientists today, we consider this to be a terrorist act and offer you our condolences and this act of terrorism must be fought.

In Lebanon, there is a national unity government with one essential equation: the army, the people and the resistance, and this is what we are committed to and our national unity is what will protect us. We will pursue this path and we thank you very much, and thank the Iranian people as well, for their love of Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) shakes hands with Iran's first vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi (R) during the welcoming ceremony at Tehran's Saadabad Palace on November 27, 2010. (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

The final statement

The following is the text of the final statement on the occasion of PCM Hariri’s visit to Tehran:

“According to the historical ties and friendly relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Lebanese Republic, and after the successful visit of His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Lebanon this year, and his meetings and consultations with His Excellency President Michel Sleiman, President of the Lebanese Republic and His Excellency PCM Saad Hariri, which resulted in the conclusion of 16 documents and memoranda of understanding in various areas related to the development of relations, PCM Saad Hariri, visited the Islamic Republic of Iran at the invitation of His Excellency Mr. Rahimi, the First Vice-President of the Republic. He met with High-level officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Republic, and discussed with them bilateral relations and regional and international developments.

The two sides signed 9 new documents during this visit for cooperation in the economic, commercial, industrial, labor, social and cultural areas. After holding talks and exchanging views on issues of common concern, in an atmosphere of cordiality and understanding, the following was announced:

• In the light of the interest prevailing for the development and enhancement of relations between the two countries, both sides stressed their determination to consolidate these relations between the two states as well as between the institutions and to follow-up the implementation of agreements signed during the visit of President of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Lebanon, as well as the visit of His Excellency Saad Hariri to Tehran.

• The Islamic Republic of Iran supports national unity and stability in Lebanon and its maintenance, and stresses on the equation of coexistence as a model for the democracy of accord in the country.

• The Islamic Republic of Iran expressed its full support to the Lebanese state and the Lebanese people and the national and Islamic resistance in Lebanon against the Zionist enemy.

• The Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes on the need of the Zionist entity’s withdrawal from all the occupied territories in Lebanon, including the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshuba Hills and the village of Ghajar.

• The Islamic Republic of Iran expressed its full willingness to put its potential and capacities in various technical, engineering and economic and agricultural areas at the disposal of the friendly countries, including Lebanon.

• The Lebanese side expresses its appreciation of the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in supporting the achievement of national unity, security and stability in Lebanon, and the two sides express their support of the common Saudi – Syrian effort in this area.

• The Lebanese side supports the right of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the peaceful use of nuclear technology, and opposes the double standards and discriminatory policy with respect to the nuclear arsenal and weapons of mass destruction of the Zionist entity, which pose a threat to regional peace and security, and calls for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

• Both sides condemn the assassination that targeted the Iranian scientist and university professor in Tehran this morning, and consider this crime in the context of terrorism against the Iranian people.

• The Lebanese side announced its commitment to the Arab peace initiative, and the two sides confirmed their support to the struggles of the oppressed Palestinian people in order to liberate all Palestinian territories and the recuperation of their legitimate rights in an independent state and Jerusalem as its capital. The two sides highlight the right of return for the Palestinian people, and reject all Zionist attempts to impose any conditions on withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories.

• The two sides emphasize the necessity of unity and cohesion between all the Muslim States and people, and the need of all concerned parties to take the appropriate action and deal with the temptations of sectarianism, which is without a doubt in the benefit of the enemies.

• The two sides express their support for the achievement of justice and finding the truth in the assassination of martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and his comrades, and for not exploiting the tribunal politically.

• The two sides agreed to form a higher joint committee under the presidency of the First Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Lebanese Prime minister.

• The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri invited Mohammad Reza Rahimi, the First vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for an official visit to Lebanon. Rahimi promised to respond to it as soon as possible. (*)

Photostream : Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visits Iran

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (R) and Iran's first vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi (L) review the honour guard during the welcoming ceremony at Tehran's Saadabad Palace on November 27, 2010. (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (R) smiles while reviewing the honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at Tehran's Saadabad Palace on November 27, 2010. (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, walks during his official welcoming ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, listens to Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahim, during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. An unidentified interpreter sits at center. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) shakes hands with Iran's first vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi (R) during the welcoming ceremony at Tehran's Saadabad Palace on November 27, 2010. (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish Prime Minister in Lebanon to 'fight signs of civil war'

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reviews an honour guard with his Lebanese counterpart Saad al-Hariri (L) during an official welcoming ceremony upon his arrival at Beirut international airport, November 24, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/ Jamal Saidi )

Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in Beirut amid soaring tension as Hezbollah fears UN indictment for Hariri killing.

November 24, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Beirut on Wednesday for a two-day visit that would include talks on the tense political situation in Lebanon.

Erdogan is to meet Lebanese government officials and lawmakers from Hezbollah, according to a government source.

The Turkish premier, in remarks published Wednesday in the Lebanese daily As Safir, said his country would not allow Lebanon to deteriorate into a civil war.

Erdogan said that Turkey would “do the necessary to fight signs of a civil war in Lebanon.”

“Now is the time for unity in Lebanon,” he said.

His visit comes ahead of the release of the findings of an international tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Political tensions have mounted in Lebanon amid indications that some members of Hezbollah are to be indicted in the case.

The militant Shiite group has said it will not accept any accusation against any of its members, and warned of the repercussions of such an outcome.

During his stay in the country, Erodgan is also due to visit Turkish troops deployed with the United Nations Interim Forces in Southern Lebanon and inaugurate Turkish-built schools and a rehabilitation centre.

Turkey and Lebanon are also expected to sign a partnership agreement to establish a free-trade zone.(*)

 

Photostream : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meets Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) welcomes Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) at the Gorki presidential residence outside Moscow on November 16, 2010. Hariri announced late on November 15 in Moscow that Russia would offer Lebanon six combat helicopters, 31 tanks and 36 artillery pieces complete with ammunition and shells. (Photo by VLADIMIR RODIONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) meets with Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri (R) at the Gorki presidential residence outside Moscow November 16, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, look at paintings during their meeting in the Gorki residence outside Moscow, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010. (Getty Images / AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (L) visit the Gorki presidential residence outside Moscow on November 16, 2010. Hariri announced late on November 15 in Moscow that Russia would offer Lebanon six combat helicopters, 31 tanks and 36 artillery pieces complete with ammunition and shells. (Photo by VLADIMIR RODIONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

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