US envoy warns against rearming Lebanon’s Hezbollah

December 18th, 2008 - 5:28 am ICT by IANS  

Beirut, dec 18 (DPA) US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Hale warned Wednesday against the continuous rearming of the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah by Syria and Iran.”The rearmament of Hezbollah through Syria and Iran may re-incite confrontation with Israel, which could destroy Lebanon once again,” Hale told reporters in Beirut.

Hale, who arrived in Beirut Wednesday for talks with Lebanese officials, affirmed that US’ goal remained “to work for a free, sovereign, and independent Lebanon”.

Hale added that the approaches the US and Europe are exerting is aimed at wanting Syria to end its interference in Lebanese affairs and Syrian support for terrorism.

The US official also called for the complete implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR), including UNSCR 1701.

“Damascus should prove to the international community through action that it was implementing UNSCR 1701 and must move toward delineating a Lebanese-Syrian border and stop weapons smuggling to Hezbollah,” he added.

UN resolution 1701 ended 33 days of war between Hezbollah and Israel in July 2006. It also called for “the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon including Hezbollah so that there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state”.

In response to a question, Hale stopped short of directly accusing Syria of being responsible for assassinations that have taken place in Lebanon over the past three years and said the UN investigation would lead to a conviction of those behind the killings.

“I think we should all have reservations in issuing accusations until we see the result of this judicial process,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is scheduled to meet to renew the mandate of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) on the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and other assassinations and bombings in Lebanon since 2004.

The council is expected to extend the mandate until Feb 28, 2009.

Hariri was killed in 2005 in a massive bomb blast that triggered a local and international outcry leading Syria to withdraw from Lebanon after a 30-year military presence. Widely blamed for Hariri’s killing, Damascus has vehemently denied the charges.

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