After meeting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Mikati told Arab-language reporters on Friday that the disarming of Shia resistance group "would have to be in the context of a Lebanese framework".

"They will. I said it," Mikati said when asked if the group would be disarmed.

"But in our terminology, Hizb Allah is not a militia. It is a resistance group, and we believe that there is a difference between a resistance and a militia," Mikati said.

"To a certain extent," he said without elaboration when asked if that meant the resolution did not apply to Hizb Allah.

The Hizb Allah has been resisting
Israeli occupation

Resolution 1559, adopted by the 15-nation UN council last September, also demanded that Syria withdraw its military and intelligence forces from Lebanon and that Beirut conduct elections free of outside interference.

UN priorities

With Syria having carried out a total withdrawal in compliance with the resolution, UN officials are focusing on holding elections in Lebanon. The task of disarming militias is not a priority for now, they say.

The resolution said militias operating on Lebanese soil should be disarmed so that the central government can exercise sovereignty over the entire country.

Parts of southern Lebanon are now under Hizb Allah's control. Hizb Allah leaders say that demands for disarmament are part of a US effort to help Israel.