Shiite group's leader calls on Iranian president to scrap plan to throw symbolic stone at Israeli side of border: 'I'll tell him he can throw something much larger'
The Shiite militant group Hezbollah on Saturday called for a mass turnout to welcome Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he arrives on a two-day official visit to Lebanon next week.
"We call on you to welcome President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday all along the airport road," the group's Al-Manar television broadcast over a picture of a smiling Iranian leader.
"Lebanon is the country of resistance –- welcome to your family," said the voice-over to the television spot, which was signed by both Hezbollah and Amal, another Lebanese Shiite party that is allied to the "party of God."
Ahmadinejad's October 13-14 visit is eagerly anticipated by Hezbollah, which is planning to give him a warm welcome as well as a tour of the southern border region with Israel.
However, the trip has sparked controversy in Lebanon with some members of the pro-Western parliamentary majority calling it a provocation and the United States also expressing concern.
Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are set to appear together at a rally in a stadium in Hezbollah's stronghold in southern Beirut.
The leader of Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by Washington, lives in hiding and last appeared in public in July 2008.
In a televised speech on Saturday, Nasrallah said, "I call on the Lebanese and Palestinians in the refugee camps to welcome Ahmadinejad in masses at the various events that will be held during his visit. He will visit Bint Jbeil – a symbol of the resistance.
The Hezbollah leader said the Iranian president should drop his plan to throw a symbolic stone at the Israeli side of the border. "If Ahmadinejad will heed my advice, I will tell him, 'Throw a stone? You can throw something much larger at Israel'."
Nasrallah also thanked Iran for its "moral, political and financial" support.
Nasrallah has been Israel's public enemy number one since his Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shiite militant group fought a deadly month-long war against the Jewish state in the summer of 2006.
During his visit, Ahmadinejad is due to meet President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and parliament speaker Nabih Berri.
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