AFP: A top Iranian cleric on Friday slammed US president-elect Barack Obama's criticism of Hezbollah and defended the Islamic republic's support of the Lebanese Shiite group.
TEHRAN (AFP) — A top Iranian cleric on Friday slammed US president-elect Barack Obama's criticism of Hezbollah and defended the Islamic republic's support of the Lebanese Shiite group.
"We are announcing it frankly, that we will defend the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance and its brave leader Hassan Nasrallah with pride," the Friday prayers leader at Tehran University, Ahmad Khatami, told worshippers.
"They are not terrorists since they are defending their honour and independence," he said.
"If Obama wants to decrease hatred, he has to stop making worthless comments. Most probably the Zionists have put down a banana skin for him," Khatami said.
In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Obama said he would make clear to Tehran that its nuclear programme was "unacceptable," along with support of Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, and its "threats against Israel."
Shiite majority Iran is a staunch supporter of Hezbollah and maintains that it provides them with moral support and not arms as alleged by two of its arch-foes, Washington and Israel.
After the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Iran sent money and technical expertise for reconstruction and to compensate victims. Israel says the Shiite group is now three times stronger than during the war.