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Last Updated: Friday, 29 February 2008, 10:39 GMT
Hezbollah says US ship is threat
The USS Cole, seen here just after being attacked in Aden in October 2000
The USS Cole was attacked by al-Qaeda in 2000
A Hezbollah MP has condemned the deployment of the USS Cole warship off the coast of Lebanon as a threat to Lebanese sovereignty and independence.

The US is sending one warship and a support ship to the eastern Mediterranean as a show of support for "regional stability".

The deployment is seen as a warning to Syria, which backs the opposition, of which Hezbollah is part.

But MP Hassan Fadlallah said the movement would not give in to threats.

He told reporters: "It is clear this threat and intimidation will not affect us."

We don't succumb to threats and military intimidation practised by the United States to implement its hegemony over Lebanon
Hassan Fadlallah

"The American move threatens the stability of Lebanon and the region and it is an attempt to spark tension," he told Reuters news agency.

"The American administration has used the policy of sending warships to support its allies in Lebanon before, and that experiment failed and backfired.

"We don't succumb to threats and military intimidation practised by the United States to implement its hegemony over Lebanon."


Lebanon is deep in political crisis, precipitating a series of political assassinations.

The country has not had a president since 24 November, when pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud left office. Parliament has repeatedly failed to elect a successor amid an ongoing row over candidates.

The election was postponed once again this week, and is now due to take place on 11 March. There are fears that the political deadlock could lead to escalating sectarian violence.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, said the presence of the USS Cole was important.

He said the signal was "not specifically sent to any one country as much as it is to the region itself".

"That's a very important part of the world and stability there is an important outcome for us," he said.

The USS Cole is expected to take up position, out of visible range of Lebanon.

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