Lebanese President Michel Aoun has defended Hezbollah weapons, saying the arms of the Shia group are an essential part in defending Lebanon.
“Hezbollah weapons are not contradictory to the state, but are an essential part in defending the country,” Aoun said in an interview with Egypt’s CBC satellite channel on Sunday.
“As long as a part of the territory is occupied by Israel, and as long as the army is not powerful enough to fight Israel, we feel the need to maintain the weapons of the resistance to complement the army,” he said.
He said Hezbollah fighters “are originally from the south and whose land was occupied” by Israel.
Aoun said he does not oppose visiting Iran, a staunch backer of Hezbollah group.
“We are ready to play any role to solve problems in the region,” he said. “Our priority is to maintain security along Lebanese border.”
Aoun was speaking on the eve of his first visit to Egypt for talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Aoun, a former army chief, was elected Lebanon’s president in October, ending a presidential vacuum that had lasted more than two and a half years.
In 2006, Israel launched a deadly war on Lebanon after Hezbollah captured three Israeli soldiers along border.
More than 1,000 people were killed and thousands displaced by the Israeli war, which came to an end under UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
The resolution called for disarmament of Hezbollah, for withdrawal of the Israeli army from Lebanon, and for the deployment of the Lebanese army and an enlarged UN force in the south.
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