Hariri downplays tension in south
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said Friday that neither Lebanon, Syria nor the resistance movement favored violating the UN-demarcated Blue Line, casting blame for the recent attacks against Israel on “undisciplined” Palestinian groups in Lebanon.
Hariri was responding to a question on the situation along the Blue Line posed by a visiting delegation from the secretariat-general of the Federation of Arab Journalists. According to The Daily Star, Hariri said those responsible for the violations had been detained and were being tried, “because this runs contrary to the commitments of the Lebanese state.”
The prime minister's remarks came on the eve of his planned four-day visit to Washington next week for talks with US President George W. Bush. He is scheduled to meet Bush on Wednesday for talks on bilateral relations and the current situation in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi called Friday for self-restraint in south Lebanon to deter an Israeli attempt to widen the conflict in the region. “There is great concern that Israel would initiate (actions) in a bid to widen the war zone in the region,” Kharrazi said, following a 50-minute meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Mahmoud Hammoud.
That could happen by Israel carrying out “acts of provocation. So naturally, wisdom and precaution tell us to observe self-restraint toward such Israeli provocations.”
Asked if self-restraint should include activities in the Shebaa Farms, Kharrazi, following a meeting with President Emile Lahoud, said “the Lebanese resistance is considered a legitimate right for Lebanon.”
Despite the Iranian minister’s calls, Hizbullah carried out another attack in the evening against Israeli outposts in the Shebaa Farms.
On Thursday, Kharrazi Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Hizbullah said Friday evening they discussed the “situation in occupied Palestine and the Zionist aggression … against the Palestinian people.”
However, a member of the Iranian delegation told AFP that the discussions with Nasrallah “focused on the situation in southern Lebanon in light of the confrontations between Hizbullah and Israel.”
Following his meeting with Hariri, Kharrazi stressed the importance of using oil as a pressure tool for the Palestinian cause. But he qualified Iran’s stand by saying: “To use this tool effectively … requires the compliance of all Islamic states that export oil.” (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)