TEHRAN : Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday for a controversial visit seen as a boost for key ally Hezbollah and that will take him close to the border with arch-foe Israel.

Ahmadinejad earlier described Lebanon as the "focus point of resistance" as he left for Beirut on a two-day trip.

"Lebanon is the focus point of resistance and standing against those who demand too much," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on the state television's website prior to departing to Lebanon.

"It is playing an excellent role in this regard," he added.

He said the main aim of his trip was to boost "bilateral ties in different areas and to hold talks and consultations with Lebanese officials on regional and international issues."

Ahmadinejad's visit will take him to the doorstep of arch-foe Israel in a joint show of force with Hezbollah.

His official trip has sparked criticism among members of Lebanon's pro-Western parliamentary majority as well as in the United States and Israel, which have sought to isolate Iran over its nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad's first visit since his election in 2005 will highlight the clout Iran wields in Lebanon through Hezbollah.

Considered Tehran's proxy, Hezbollah is by far the most powerful military and political force in the small Mediterranean country.

Channel NewsAsia - Iranian president arrives in Lebanon on controversial visit - channelnewsasia.com