Page last updated at 20:32 GMT, Saturday, 13 June 2009 21:32 UK

EU's Solana meets Hezbollah in Beirut

Javier Solana (left) and Hussein Hajj Hassan, 13 June, 2009
Javier Solana recognised Hezbollah's political role in Lebanon

A senior EU official has for the first time held talks with a politician from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana met Hezbollah official Hussein Hajj Hassan at the Lebanese parliament building in Beirut.

Mr Hajj Hassan is one of Hezbollah's 11 members of parliament, following recent elections which were won by a rival Western-backed alliance.

Hezbollah is regarded by the United States as a terrorist group.

The EU has previously rejected public contacts with Hezbollah, which also controls Lebanon's most powerful military force.

But Mr Solana said: "Hezbollah is part of political life in Lebanon and is represented in the Lebanese parliament."

Mr Hajj Hassan described the meeting with Mr Solana as a "goodwill gesture from the European Union towards Hezbollah."

He said it was an attempt by the EU to "get to know" Hezbollah.

Britain said earlier this year it favoured re-establishing links with Hezbollah's political wing.

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