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Beirut, U.S., braces for Ahmadinejad visit

  |   Oct. 12, 2010 at 3:17 PM
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TEHRAN, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Israel is waging a propaganda war ahead of the planned visit to Lebanon by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Ramin Mehmanparast, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said the Iranian president would meet with his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman as well as Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Mehmanparast accused Israel and "certain political groups" that oppose Iranian ties to Lebanon of launching a propaganda war ahead of the state visit, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reports.

An article last week in The Jerusalem Post accuses Hezbollah of plotting to take over the Lebanese government with the help of Iran. The report said that if Hezbollah is accused by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon of killing former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Shiite group would "seize control of Lebanon and turn it into another Iran."

Lebanon is bracing for indictments from the STL as early as the end of the year. Iranian-supported Hezbollah says they have evidence to suggest Israel played a role in the 2005 assassination.

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut issued a warning ahead of the planned visit by the Iranian president. The warning advises citizens to expect demonstrations and traffic disruptions in Beirut and in the Hezbollah south of the country.

The embassy "strong urges" U.S. citizens to avoid large gatherings and remain vigilant.

"The embassy reminds U.S. citizens that even peaceful gatherings can turn violent and spread over neighborhoods with little or no warning," the advisory reads.

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