Page last updated at 18:14 GMT, Monday, 26 May 2008 19:14 UK

Hezbollah head urges co-existence

Hezbollah rally
It was Mr Nasrallah's first address to supporters since fighting in Beirut

Hezbollah is not seeking to control Lebanon or impose its views on other political forces, the group's leader has told a large crowd in Beirut.

Hassan Nasrallah addressed thousands of supporters via video link to mark the Israeli pullout from Lebanon in 2000.

"Lebanon is a pluralistic country. The existence of this country only comes about through co-existence," he said.

He said Hezbollah would not use its arms to attain its goals. Lebanon saw fierce factional violence recently.

It was the first speech by Mr Nasrallah since Hezbollah gunmen seized several parts of Beirut, forcing the government to agree to a deal that has strengthened the Shia Muslim group's political role in Lebanon.

Western-backed ruling majority to get 16 cabinet seats and choose prime minister
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Three cabinet seats to be nominated by president
The use of weapons in internal conflicts is to be banned
Opposition protest camps in central Beirut are to be removed
New law to divide country into smaller electoral districts

"I reaffirm the Doha agreement clause that prevents the use of arms to attain political goals," said Mr Nasrallah, whose Syrian- and Iranian-backed group has Lebanon's most powerful military force.

The Arab-brokered deal, signed in the Qatari capital, paved the way for Sunday's appointment of a president after a six-month delay.

Earlier on Monday, former army chief Michel Suleiman took up residence in the presidential palace in Baadba.

There are hopes that his appointment is a first step towards national reconciliation and away from possible civil war.

But correspondents say Lebanon still harbours deep rifts that have resulted in political turmoil, economic stagnation and a string of political killings.

Arms warning

Hezbollah was criticised by its pro-Western opponents for using its arms - which it describes as the weapons of resistance against Israel - against fellow Lebanese.

President Suleiman arriving at Baabda palaces
Mr Suleiman was the consensus choice as president
Mr Nasrallah said it had not been a coup but a defence of the resistance against Israel, and he warned his domestic adversaries against using their weapons in future conflict as well.

The strategy of armed resistance against Israeli occupation was a success, he said, while the alternatives of negotiating - or of waiting - had failed.

President Suleiman's office says he will begin consultations with political blocs on Wednesday to form a new 30-member cabinet.

Under the agreement, the pro-Western parliamentary majority will have 16 seats. The opposition will have veto-wielding 11 seats.

The remaining three ministers will be appointed by Mr Suleiman.

At least 65 people died in clashes as Hezbollah fighters seized control of sections of Beirut in response to government attempts to outlaw the group's private telephone network and reassign Beirut airport's security chief, who is close to the opposition.

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