BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Hezbollah-dominated areas near the Israeli border Thursday as part of his state visit to Lebanon.
Before his trip to Bint Jbeil, Ahmadinejad had a lunch meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Suleiman, The New York Times reported. He traveled south by helicopter to Bint Jbeil, one of Hezbollah's major strongholds.
Ahmadinejad told the thousands of people who had come to hear him that the goal is for "the Zionists to be wiped out." Iran helped rebuild Bint Jbeil, two miles from the border, after it was almost destroyed by Israeli bombing.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in Tel Aviv, responded to Ahmadinejad's remarks by saying Israeli citizens will continue to build their country and are ready to defend it, Ynetnews reported.
"We've heard cursing and abomination from the Lebanon border today. The best answer to these blasphemies was given here 62 years ago," Netanyahu said, referring to Israel's founding in 1948.
Ahmadinejad has been hailed as a hero by many in Lebanon since his arrival Wednesday. But some leaders fear his visit could increase the splits in the coalition government.