Lebanese cleric says Blair unwelcome

Lebanon's leading Shia cleric has said the British prime minister, who is on a tour of the Middle East, is not welcome in Lebanon because of his support for Israel and the United States.

    Fadlallah has said Blair will not be welcome in Lebanon

    Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah criticised Tony Blair for not calling for an early truce to end Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah and for allowing US weapons to be shipped via Britain to Israel for use in Lebanon.

    The Lebanese government should have told "Blair that he is not wanted in Lebanon, so that he - and those like him - would know that we are not so naive as to welcome him when he has contributed to killing us and slaughtering our children," Fadlallah said in a statement.

    Blair arrived in Israel on Saturday. Lebanese officials have said he will visit Beirut on Monday for talks on a United Nations truce which ended a month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah.

    The recent fighting was triggered by Hezbollah's cross-border capture of two Israeli soldiers in July.

    The month-long conflict killed nearly 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

    Protests plannned

    On Friday, Lebanese parties close to Syria, which is a principal backer of Hezbollah and was for decades the power-broker in Lebanon, called for protests against the visit.

    The 8th of March group, a coalition of Lebanese pro-Syrian political  parties, announced that a protest against Blair's visit would be held outside the downtown offices of the UN Economic and Social Council for Western Asia on Monday.

    Britain is not sending ground troops to join the proposed 15,000 strong United Nations interim force in Lebanon, but it is providing logistical support to the force through its naval base in nearby Cyprus.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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