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Ahmadinejad Arrives In Lebanon On Controversial Visit

Iran President Mahmud Ahmadinejad before his departure for Lebanon on October 13
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has arrived in Lebanon for his first state visit to that country.

During his visit, Ahmadinejad is expected to meet with Lebanon's president and the pro-Western prime minister, and is also to make public appearances expected to draw giant crowds in two of the Islamic militia Hizballah's strongholds -- one in south Beirut, another in the town of Bint Jbeil near the border with Israel. Iran has strong ties to Shi'ite Hizballah.

Crowds of supporters gathered in the streets of Beirut to greet Ahmadinejad as he arrived. The highway from the airport to the city center has been decorated with Iranian flags and posters in support of the Iranian leader.

Ahmadinejad described Lebanon as "the focus of resistance against those who demand too much" as he left for Beirut earlier in the day.

Ahmadinejad's two-day visit has sparked criticism among Lebanon's pro-Western parliamentary majority who said he was seeking to turn Lebanon into "an Iranian base on the Mediterranean." The visit has also been criticized by the United States and Israel.

compiled from agency reports