Lebanese leader praises Iranian leadership

Oct. 13, 2008 at 2:07 PM
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TEHRAN, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Iranian state-run media Monday said Lebanese lawmaker Michel Aoun hailed Tehran as the most powerful force in the region during a diplomatic visit.

Aoun, the Christian leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, a party with warm ties to Hezbollah and other Shiite powers, was in Tehran to hold talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and several other top officials.

The former Lebanese military commander said he received harsh criticism from his Lebanese colleagues for the visit to Iran, but added he was in Tehran to strengthen ties between the two countries, the Islamic Republic News Agency said.

As for regional tensions in Iraq and India surrounding the Christian community, Aoun remarked there were no such hostilities between Iran and Lebanese Christians.

The visit comes on the heels of claims from the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, who said Iran was actively meddling in the negotiations surrounding the long-term security pact between Washington and Baghdad.

"Clearly, this is one they're having a full court press on to try to ensure there's never any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq," Odierno said in The Washington Post, adding intelligence reports suggested Iran was bribing Iraqi lawmakers.

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