Iran offers Hariri help for Lebanese military


TEHRAN: Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Sunday told Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that Tehran was prepared to help the Lebanese army, state television’s website reported.
“We have stated on several occasions, and we say it again today, that we stand alongside the Lebanese army and are prepared to cooperate” with it, Vahidi said during a meeting with the visiting premier, the report said.
In a symbolic move, Vahidi offered Hariri an Iranian-made sub-machine gun Tondar (Thunder), used in urban warfare. Iranian television showed pictures of the gilded weapon which was placed in a wooden box. Hariri for his part expressed optimism that his visit would enhance cooperation between Iran and Lebanon in the field of defence, according to the report. Hariri, who arrived in Tehran on Saturday for a three-day official visit, made the statement after visiting an exhibition dedicated to the achievements of Iran’s defence industry.
“The stability, security and unity of Lebanon play a very important role in resolving regional and internal issues. Therefore, I wanted to come to Iran and see your defence achievements, even though it is contrary to the position of our enemies,” Hariri was quoted as saying. Earlier this month the United States, which accuses Iran of interference in Lebanon, lifted a freeze on 100 million dollars in US military aid to Lebanon. The Iranian minister also criticised a UN tribunal probing the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former premier Rafiq Hariri, while condemning his killers as “enemies of Lebanon.”