Britain's government spokesman said a decision to engage in direct contacts with Hizbullah's political wing was aimed at encouraging the Shiite movement to abandon violence and play a more democratic role. "Our aim is to encourage [Hizbullah] to stay away from violence and play a constructive, peaceful and democratic role in Lebanese politics," John Wilks was quoted as saying by the Beirut-based As Safir daily in on Friday.
Earlier this week, Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell told a parliamentary committee hearing that London is ready to engage in direct contacts with Hizbullah's political arm, ever since the Shiite movement became part of a national unity government last year.
Hizbullah sources told the newspaper that it was waiting what steps Britain would take after Rammell's announcement. "In the past months, we were reconsidering our policy towards Hizbullah based on British interests," Wilks told the newspaper. The change of policy has nothing to do with the policies adopted by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and its openness to Syria and Iran, he noted.
Asked if the British announcement would be followed by another decision to remove Hizbullah's military wing from the blacklist of terrorist groups, Wilks said: "Our policy is to stress Hizbullah's right to represent its electorates as a political party … The political wing of Hizbullah is of course part of the national unity government in Lebanon and the UK is doing everything possible to back this government."