Jumblatt: Hizb Allah can keep arms

Lebanese opposition leader Walid Jumblatt has said the Shia resistance group Hizb Allah should keep its weapons until Israel withdraws from a disputed border area.

    Jumblatt is the most prominent face of the anti-Syrian opposition

    The most prominent face of the country's anti-Syrian opposition, Jumblatt made the remark after holding a meeting with Hizb Allah chief Hasan Nasr Allah at the organisation's headquarters in Beirut on Sunday.

    Afterwards, he said he would not press for Hizb Allah to be immediately disarmed.

    "The arms issue is not proposed, it is not open to discussion at this stage," Jumblatt, who is also the political leader of Lebanon's Druze community, said.

    "When our ambitions are met, in agreement with the resistance, over Shebaa Farms, then we will talk about arms," he added, referring to a disputed strip on the border between Lebanon, Israel and Syria's Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    "We are still attached to protecting the resistance. Later, through dialogue and after obtaining the necessary essential guarantees, we will open up the question of arms."

    Disputed land

    Jumblatt had met US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield earlier in the day.

    Hizb Allah chief Nasr Allah has
    thrown his weight behind Syria

    Hizb Allah has vowed to keep fighting as long as Israel remains in the Shebaa Farms area, a tiny disputed border enclave on the border between Lebanon, Israel and Syria's Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    Lebanon says Shebaa Farms is Lebanese land occupied by Israel, while the United Nations describes it as Israeli-occupied Syrian territory.

    The UN Security Council passed a resolution last year demanding all foreign forces leave Lebanon and calling on militias to give up their arms.

    Lebanon's opposition has rejected calls for dialogue with
    Beirut's pro-Syrian authorities and refused to join a national
    unity government to lead the country to elections due in May, but Jumblatt had said they were open to talks with Hizb Allah.

    Privileged relations

    "Bashar al-Asad has acknowledged errors.
    We need to open a
    new page with Syria"

    Walid Jumblatt,
    Lebanese opposition leader

    Jumblatt also spoke of the need for "privileged relations" with
    Syria, which is pulling out its 14,000 troops from Lebanon after criticism of its role in the country following the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

    "It's true that holding the elections is important for us, they
    are in our interest and certain people are trying to force a delay, but we will not allow, despite this wave of enthusiasm, that there is a new parliament hostile to the resistance and Syria," he said.

    Jumblatt added: "Syria is in the process of pulling out its troops. President Bashar al-Asad has acknowledged errors. We need to open a new page with Syria.

    "We cannot enter into an era of chauvinism and hostility between two peoples and the two countries."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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