Middle East
Emir of Qatar tours south Lebanon
Sheikh Hamad visits towns that Qatar helped rebuild after the 2006 Israeli bombardment.
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2010 19:02 GMT
Sheikh Hamad was received warmly by many in south Lebanon who are grateful for Qatar's help [AFP]

The Emir of Qatar has visited towns in southern Lebanon that his country helped rebuild after being destroyed during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based group. 

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani received a warm welcome on Saturday as thousands of people lined the streets holding up signs that said: "Thank you, Qatar".

Sheikh Hamad toured the region accompanied by his wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned and Lebanon's President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

"I am happy to be here, in this area that was rebuilt after it was destroyed,'' Sheikh Hamad said in Bint Jbeil, one of the towns hit hardest by Israeli shellings.

Qatar spent millions of dollars to help finance the reconstruction of houses in four towns, including Bint Jbeil.   

The Emir's tour is the first trip by a visiting Arab leader in south Lebanon.

During his visit to the region, Sheikh Hamad inaugurated a hospital in Bint Jbeil and a nearby mosque and church.

Rising political tensions

He also visited Khiam prison, a former notorious detention center used by Israel during the month-long conflict in 2006.

Sheikh Hamad's visit comes as political tensions rise in Lebanon over whether Hezbollah members may be indicted by a UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.

Hezbollah dismisses the tribunal as an "Israeli project'' and has vowed not to hand over any indicted members.

Sheikh Hamad's three-day trip follows an unprecedented joint visit to Lebanon by Bashar Assad, Syria's president, and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in efforts to try to defuse tensions over the tribunal on al-Harriri's assassination.

Al Jazeera
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