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Sunday, March 15, 2009

UK Gov’t Spokesman Defends Contacts with Hezbollah

15/03/2009 | hanan awarekah | almanarTV

Britain’s government spokesman, John Wilks, defended on Sunday his country’s decision to launch talks with Hezbollah officials.

In a press conference in Amman, Wilks said, “The question we are asked constantly is: Why Hezbollah and not Hamas? And there are many reasons for our decision. First of all our contacts with Hezbollah come within the framework of our bilateral relations with Lebanon and Lebanon’s situation differs from that of the Palestinians.”

He confirmed “Britain is a partner and a friend of Lebanon and we want to be a more effective friend.” “We support the Lebanese government in Lebanon. How can we perform this role if we do not hold contacts with all the parties represented in the government?” Wilks said.

On Thursday, the United States expressed its displeasure of London’s move and the British initiative to talk to Hezbollah has emerged as a worrisome development for it. A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity said he was “unhappy” with the British decision. Last week, Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman said “we are not ready to take the same step...We will watch how that (talks) proceeds. Also last week, a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters that Washington envisioned “possible benefits from the British decision.”

On the 6th of March, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband revealed that London had authorized low-level contact with the political wing of the Hezbollah. Britain has recently enrolled the party’s military wing on its “terror list.”

Analysts say that the British move comes amidst a feeling that a new era had begun in the region since US President Barack Obama took office. “Britain sensed a new era has begun in the region (Middle East). Obama promised many changes – not in terms of US goals or vital and strategic interests – but in terms of achieving them, and this necessitates a new trend in handling the world,” Lebanese political expert Sarkis Naoum told Al-Manar.

Contrary to Britain’s flexible position, the US had renewed its conditions to talk to Hezbollah, on top of which is the recognition of “Israel’s” right to exist. Yet, some believe that the notion of the US talking to Hezbollah is a precedent in the country that has been portraying the party as a “terrorist organization”.

Speaking while marking the blessed birthday of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) in the framework of the Islamic Unity Week at the Sayyed Shouhada complex in Beirut's southern suburb on Friday, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah declared that in case Hezbollah wants to engage in a dialogue with the US, it will impose its own conditions. His eminence pointed out that the “new” US stance or "openness" was due to the failure of its regional plans, announcing that the US conditions for dialogue with Hezbollah were rejected since the Resistance party would never recognize Israel.

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