DUSHANBE, Tajikistan – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday that the conflict between Lebanon and Israel could trigger "a hurricane" of broader fighting in the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad's nation is a major backer of the Hezbollah militant group and a sworn enemy of Israel. In his comments, he referred to a proverb that says: "He who raises the wind will get a hurricane."
"That proverb fully relates to the Middle East, which is a very volatile region," he said. "And it will be a strong hurricane which will strike really hard."
Ahmadinejad made his comments after meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov. The two leaders signed a joint statement declaring "that the use of force against Palestine and Lebanon is unacceptable."
"All issues of international security must be resolved through dialogue, because force does not bring a solution," the Iranian leader said. "The use of force will only exacerbate the situation."
Ahmadinejad and Rakhmonov called for a cease-fire and urged international organizations to seek the swiftest possible settlement of the conflict.
Tajikistan is an impoverished but strategically important former Soviet republic because of its border with Afghanistan. Tajik and Iranian officials signed agreements Tuesday meant to boost trade and cooperation on cultural issues, labor, justice and tourism.
The Tajik language is similar to Farsi, Iran's main language.