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Ahmadinejad, Assad Call for Unity Among Lebanese, Palestinians

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are calling for unity in both Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

After meeting in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Thursday, the two leaders issued a statement urging Lebanese factions to take part in national reconciliation.

Lebanon's political crisis pits the pro-Syrian opposition against the Western-backed government. Washington accuses Tehran and Damascus of causing instability in Lebanon through their support for the militant group Hezbollah.

Mr. Ahmadinejad met in Damascus today with Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

The Iranian and Syrian leaders also appealed to Palestinian factions to return to dialogue and consensus following Hamas' takeover of Gaza last month. The move effectively split the Palestinian territory politically from the Fatah-dominated West Bank.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's one-day visit to the Syrian capital comes just two days after Mr. Assad was sworn-in for a second seven-year term in office. Syria is Iran's closest Arab ally.

Before leaving Tehran, the Iranian leader said he wants to continue expanding relations with Damascus, particularly through trade.

Syria's main exports to Iran include cotton and textiles, while Iran mainly exports industrial equipment and spare parts to Syria.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.