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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 20:30 GMT
US view of Hezbollah 'unchanged'
Hezbollah supporters at a rally in Beirut
Hezbollah has widespread popular support in Lebanon
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said Washington still regards Hezbollah a "terrorist" group, despite its recent show of support in Lebanon.

"The American view of Hezbollah has not changed," Ms Rice was quoted as telling journalists, after a newspaper reported a change in Washington's policy.

European legislators have accused Hezbollah of "terrorist activities" and urged steps against it.

The European Union has previously resisted US calls to outlaw the group.

The pro-Syrian movement has emerged as a powerful political and military organisation in Lebanon, having mustered hundreds of thousands of people to show support for Damascus at a rally in Beirut on Tuesday.

The group has thousands of armed fighters and holds 12 seats in the Lebanese parliament.

Last year, a United Nations resolution, backed by the US, called for Lebanon's militias to disarm.

Story 'wrong'

Ms Rice responded to a New York Times report which said the US was grudgingly moving towards accepting Hezbollah as a political force.

The White House also confirmed its view of Hezbollah remained the same.

"The report suggests that our view has changed on Hezbollah. It has not," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

He said the article was wrong.

Hezbollah has been on the US state department's list of terrorist organisations for years, with Washington accusing it of sponsoring Palestinian attacks against Israel.

Action urged

European Union lawmakers issued their strongest condemnation of the group on Thursday, but stopped short of seeking its addition to the EU's list of terrorist groups.

"Parliament considers that clear evidence exists of terrorist activities by Hezbollah," it said in a resolution.

"The [EU] Council should take all necessary steps to curtail them."

The EU has long resisted US pressure to outlaw the group, which would oblige member states to seize its assets.

The bloc is divided over the issue, with opponents of a ban concerned about upsetting delicate Middle East negotiations.


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