Nasrallah criticised Fuad Siniora, the Lebanonese prime minister, for giving Tony Blair a warm welcome in the country on Monday, in remarks aired by Aljazeera on Tuesday.

 

"You bring him home to me and to my family and you give a great reception?" Nasrallah said.

 

"If there was an invitation made for Tony Bair to visit, then this is a national disaster."

 

The Shia leader said that Blair participated in the killing of Lebanese by not doing enough to stop Israel's war with Hezbollah.

 

"This Tony Blair is an associate in the murdering," he said.

 

A few hundred Lebanese protested against Blair's visit to Beirut on Monday, accusing him of backing Israel in its 34-day war with Hezbollah.

 

During the war, Blair did not call for an early halt to the fighting, which wreaked destruction on Lebanon and cost the lives of nearly 1,200 people there, mostly civilians, as well as 157 Israelis, mainly soldiers.

 

The war began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

 

Criticism of Hezbollah

 

Nasrallah also said his group has been practicing self-restraint against what he described as back-stabbing and provocation by some politicians.

 

Although Hezbollah was largely supported by the Lebanese during the recent fighting with Israel, since the war ended, Sunni, Christian and Druze leaders have criticised Nasrallah's organisation for unnecessarily starting a massively costly war with Israel.

 

"Do not these [Lebanese officials] have feelings, calculations, brain or heart?" Nasrallah asked, apparently also criticising the Lebanese government's attempts to secure foreign aid to restore Lebanese infrastructure that was damaged during the war.

 

"Are people made of stone in Lebanon? Is this country vacant of people? Are we only hotels, concrete, roads and bridges?" he said.

 

The Lebanese government has estimated that the war has set back Lebanon's economic development by as much as 10 years.

 

UN accused of inaction over hostages

 

Also on Tuesday, Sheikh Naim Kassem, Hezbollah's deputy chief, said that his group had not been contacted by a UN envoy appointed to assist in the release of two Israeli soldiers whose capture by Hezbollah sparked the recent fighting.

 

Kassem said that negotiations for the release of the Israeli captives, whom Hezbollah wants to swap for Lebanese in Israeli jails, had yet to be launched almost a month after the end of a 34-day war sparked by their capture.

 

"We heard through the media that the UN secretary general appointed a person for the prisoner negotiations but nothing has begun yet in practice," he said.

 

"Matters are still at the start and this operation has yet to be launched in practice."

 

The UN said on Sunday it had appointed a "facilitator" who had begun working on trying to secure the releases.

 

A UN resolution halted the fighting in Lebanon by providing for an expansion of a United Nations peacekeeping force to police the south alongside Lebanese army troops.