BEIRUT (AP) – The ruler of Qatar is taking a firsthand look at south Lebanese border towns he helped rebuild after the 2006 Israeli bombardment.
Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s tour of the overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim area – a stronghold of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group – is the first such trip by a visiting Arab leader.
It’s a major boost to Hezbollah, which fought Israel in a bitter, month long war in 2006.
Al Thani travelled by helicopter on Saturday with President Michel Suleiman to the area, which borders Israel. They were met there by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is also making his first trip as premier to the region.
Hezbollah commanders and officials were at hand to welcome the emir. Thousands lined the streets in a tribute to the Qatari leader.