After meeting with prominent Mufti Muhammad Rashid Qabbani on Saturday, Hasan Nasr Allah, the secretary-general of Hizb Allah, stressed there were no grounds for sectarian strife between Shia and Sunnis in Lebanon, Aljazeera reported.

He reiterated his rejection of calls for Hizb Allah to disarm, saying the movement's status was a strictly domestic matter. 
  
"It is a very dangerous incident," Nasr Allah said of an explosion early on Saturday in a Christian residential area that wounded 11 people and caused extensive damage.

"Someone wants to increase tension and instability," he said, adding that "Israel is the beneficiary".

He stressed, though, he was not levelling any "premature accusations".

No to civil war

Nasr Allah also appealled to the anti-Syrian opposition to hold talks to find a way out of the political crisis.

"We back any national dialogue that takes place. We will not tire of calling for national dialogue," he said, adding that "there are no grounds for civil war" and "we must not create grounds", according to Aljazeera.

Hizb Allah is credited with driving
Israel out of southern Lebanon

Nasr Allah warned that closing the door to dialogue and condemning the other side "could take the country to an unsafe place and create an atmosphere that the enemies of Lebanon might use, as happened last night".

Prime Minister-designate Umar Karami, a Syrian loyalist, has so far been unable to persuade the opposition to join him in a national unity cabinet.

Political friction surged here following the assassination on 14 February of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.
  
Nasr Allah responded on Saturday to a call for Hizb Allah to disarm issued in Washington by Nasr Allah Sufair, patriarch of the Lebanese Maronite church. 
  
Internal matter

"I would have wished that the matter had not been dealt with in this way," Nasr Allah said.
  
"Two representatives of the patriarch visited me before his departure and I told them that to take firm positions on this question would not be opportune.
  

Hasan Nasr Allah has rejected all
calls for disarming of Hizb Allah

"The matter of the (anti-Israeli) resistance is an internal Lebanese affair. Neither the United States, nor the UN Security Council nor anyone else has the right to raise this question."
  
The United States has lately stepped up demands for Hizb Allah's disarmament, a position echoed by Sufair. 
  
Sfeir said Hizb Allah was a "Lebanese group that struggled for the liberation of southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation. But now that has been accomplished, there is no longer a reason for Hizb Allah to hold on to its arms". 
  
Hizb Allah, backed by Syria and Iran, has vowed to keep its guns to fight Israel, rejecting US and UN intervention.

Separately, with Saturday's bomb blast, Lebanon's Syrian-backed president has scrapped plans to attend the Arab summit.

Army warning

Citing exceptional circumstances, Emile Lahud's office announced he would not attend the two-day Arab summit starting on Tuesday in Algiers because of the situation in the country. 
  
In other developments, Lebanese army issued a warning on Saturday against "further provocation" and vowed to crack down on "anyone who threatens security or provokes the people".

"We back any national dialogue that takes place. We will not tire
of calling for
national dialogue"

Hasan Nasr Allah,
Hizb Allah chief

For its part, the Lebanese opposition said the Syrian-backed security agencies were responsible for the bombing.
   
"We warn Syria not to let these midgets carry out security actions in the country," Druze chieftain and key opposition leader Walid Jumblat said.
   
"The security agencies belong to it (Syria). There is no other explanation. When security agencies come under Lebanese control, it will be another matter," he said after the blast.

In further developments, Aljazeera's correspondent in Beirut, Abbas Nasser, reported that a bomb was found in al-Dura district of the capital and that a bomb-disposal squad had defused it.