Beirut and US at loggerheads over Hezbollah

26 October 2001

Beirut has rejected a US call to freeze the assets of Hezbollah, claiming it is a resistance group and not a terrorist organisation. Following a meeting with Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on 8 November, US Ambassador Vincent Battle said that 'the answer of the Lebanese government is to continue to insist on the distinction that they have for many, many weeks now put forward between resistance organisations and terrorist organisations'. Battle said that Washington was unlikely to change its classification of Hezbollah as a terrorist group, but that Lebanese banks would 'have to report to a committee under UN Security Council resolutions and not the United States'.

Hezbollah, which was instrumental in the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon last year, is also a political party with twelve members elected to parliament. The party controls a social network that runs schools, hospitals and charitable foundations in deprived areas of the country. 'If some people think that American threats and blacklists are going to intimidate us, they are absolutely wrong.our priorities will remain unchanged and we shall continue to combat oppression and deprivation,' Hezbollah's deputy secretary- general Naim Qassem told local reporters on 8 November.

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