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Friday, 11 January, 2002, 19:52 GMT
Lebanon rebuffs US over Hezbollah
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah (l), Iranian government representative Ali Akhbar Mustashimi, Khaled Mashaal of Hamas
Hezbollah Sheikh Nasrallah (l) is backed by Iran
Lebanon has rejected US accusations that the militant group Hezbollah is involved in terrorist acts.


A leopard cannot change its spots

Condoleezza Rice
In an interview on Lebanese television, US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said she believed the Lebanese Government should follow America's lead in freezing Hezbollah's assets and stopping them from dealing in arms.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmud Hammud said that "the one who accuses has to show evidence".

He added that "resistance is a legitimate right for all countries whose land is occupied and Lebanon still has parts of its territories occupied" by Israel.

Arms ship link

The group, which receives backing from Iran and Syria, is viewed by the Lebanon Government as a resistance movement.

Condoleezza Rice
Rice made the call in a TV interview
"We know the American point of view, and it is not new," said Mr Hammud.

Hezbollah was the most active of the guerrilla groups which fought Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon until their withdrawal in May 2000.

Militants associated with the movement were blamed in the 1980s for kidnapping Westerners in Beirut, and suicide bombings that killed more than 260 Americans.

"We have a saying in the United States which is 'A leopard cannot change its spots'," said Ms Rice.

"There are still incidents which are traceful [to Hezbollah] even now."

The US State Department has accused Hezbollah of involvement with the arms-smuggling ship detained by Israel in the Red Sea.

See also:

08 Nov 01 | Middle East
Lebanon signals no Hezbollah freeze
13 Oct 01 | Middle East
Lebanon nervous over Hezbollah link
10 Oct 01 | Americas
America's 'most wanted terrorists'
23 Jul 01 | Middle East
The next Middle East flashpoint?
16 Apr 01 | Middle East
Syria: The power in Lebanon
15 Apr 01 | Middle East
Hezbollah condemned for attacking Israel
08 Nov 01 | Middle East
Gulf crackdown on terror cash
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