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Qatari Emir in Lebanon amid cheers

Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has visited southern Lebanon amid cheers from the Lebanese who gave the emir a hero’s welcome.

Arriving in the town of Bint Jbeil, which his country helped rebuild once devastated in the 2006 Israeli invasion, the emir was greeted by the cheering crowds.

“I am happy to be here, in the region that was rebuilt after having been destroyed,” said Sheikh Hamad.

The emir, who was accompanied by Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, House Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, inaugurated the rebuilt Bint Jbeil hospital.

During his south Lebanon tour, Sheikh Hamad also met with Hezbollah officials who he praised for the resistance they staged against the 33-day Israeli offensive of 2006.

“You have lifted Lebanon’s head high and the heads of all Arab leaders. Congratulations to Lebanon and the south on the reconstruction,” he said.

Hailing the Qatari ruler’s visit, Hezbollah leaders thanked Doha for its financial and political support, and expressed hopes that more Arab leaders would visit the area and give their support to the Lebanese resistance.

The emirate of Qatar has donated USD 25 million to the reconstruction effort in Bint Jbeil. It has also helped rebuild the villages of Khiyam, Inata and Ita al-Shaab.

Qatar played a significant role in ending the 2008 political crisis in Lebanon, and mediated a deal among Lebanese rivals for the formation of a national unity coalition.

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