Lebanon has a right to defend itself in the face of Israeli aggression, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said to the official ISNA news agency on Sunday, following a recent border clash between Lebanon and Israel which resulted in the death of two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and one Israel Defense Forces officer.
Last week, Israeli officer Dov Harari was killed during clashes between Israel and the Lebanese army along the border. The 45-year-old father of four from Netanya was a reserves battalion commander in the engineering corps. Another Israeli officer, Ezra Lakia, was seriously wounded in the same exchange of fire.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami on Sunday, Mottaki said the "Lebanese nation and resistance have the right to end any aggression and pursue the issue through international circles to defend their rights."
The Iranian FM also condemned the performance of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), saying that "negligence and mistakes of these forces should not be disregarded."
"The forces are based in southern Lebanon to deter such aggressions, if UNIFIL is not able to deter the Zionist regime's aggressions, what is its duty in southern Lebanon? What is it doing along Lebanese and Palestinian borders?" Mottaki said.
Also speaking to ISNA at the joint press conference was Lebanese Foreign Minister al-Shami, who said that Israel did "not have the right to invade this region, the region is Lebanon's shared border."
The Iranian FM also commented on a rare Lebanon joint visit by Syrian President Bashar Assad and Saudi King Abdullah, underscoring the depth of Arab concern over the possibility that the potential indictment against Hezbollah members over the assassination of former Lebanon PM Rafik Harir would stir unwanted chaos.
Mottaki said that he viewed the joint meeting in a favorable light, adding that the "Islamic Republic of Iran's strategic policy seeks regional convergence and boosting regional cooperation."
"We regard regional convergence as a necessary element to strengthen bilateral and multilateral engagement and tackle enemies' conspiracies," Mottaki said.
On the subject of Iran's contentious nuclear program, the Lebanese foreign minister said he supported Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear program, adding that "the recent unfair Security Council resolution that tightened sanctions on Iran is another instance of double standards and we fully support Iran's legitimate right to civilian nuclear energy."
Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifai also reiterated on Sunday his country's support for Lebanon against Israeli "violations," during a meeting with Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri, the official Petra news agency reported.
The report stated that Prime Minister Rifai "renewed Jordan's backing to the brethren in Lebanon as well as keenness on the unity and sovereignty of Lebanon, rejecting any violations of the Lebanese sovereignty and stressing the need for all parties to abide by the UN Security Council resolution 1705."
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