Lebanon backs Hezbollah's arms

Draft statement upholds all options for Lebanon to restore occupied land.

    Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah rejects calls for the group to disarm [AFP]

    The issue has been a point of disagreement, with many in Lebanon's Western-backed majority wanting to disarm Hezbollah - a demand the group rejects.

    The statement, agreed at the 14th meeting of a ministerial committee set up to draft it, will be presented to parliament next week for a vote of confidence.
       
    "The ministerial statement is drafted and forwarded to the cabinet with the agreement of all its members," said Tareq Mitri, the information minister, after the meeting.

    Political wrangling
       
    The compromise came after more than three weeks of negotiations. The statement had been delayed by disagreements over the role of Hezbollah's army, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006.
       
    Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, wanted to exclude mentioning Hezbollah's right to regain Lebanese land by force and defer the subject to a national dialogue to be chaired by Michel Sleiman, the president.

    Hezbollah's weapons became an even more divisive issue after the group used them in street fighting in Beirut, the capital, in early May.

    Political sources said the statement renewed Lebanon's commitment to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the 2006 war and refers the fate of Hezbollah's weapons to the drafting of a "national defence strategy" to be agreed at the national dialogue meeting.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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