TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s defense minister says it is Tehran’s strategic policy to strengthen the Lebanese army.
The comments by Gen. Ahmad Vahidi to his visiting Lebanese counterpart, Fayez Ghosn, were posted on the Iranian defense ministry’s website Sunday.
Iran is a key supporter of the Lebanese group Hezbollah. Tehran denies arming the Shiite militant movement, but is believed to funnel it weapons and millions of dollars in funding.
Ghosn is a member of Marada, a Christian party allied with Hezbollah. Both groups are close to Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad, who is traditionally a major power-broker in Lebanon but faces an uprising against his rule.
Tehran may be trying to strengthen its independent ties in Lebanon if Assad falls.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)