Lebanon: Hezbollah vows to keep weapons, accuses US of terrorism
BEIRUT, Nov 30, 2009 (AFP) - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Monday that his party would continue to build up its arsenal to protect Lebanon against Israeli aggression and accused Washington of exporting terrorism.
"The ongoing Israeli threat forces the resistance to continue to boost its capacity ... in order to fulfill its role in liberating occupied territory," the head of the Lebanese Shiite militant group said in a rare news conference held via videolink to present Hezbollah's new political manifesto.
"The Israeli threat ... calls for Lebanon to have a defence strategy built on the presence of a popular resistance that helps to defend the country against Israeli aggression and a national army that protects the country and its stability."
Nasrallah also accused Washington of being the world's leading exporter of terrorism and urged nations around the globe to stand up against such a threat.
"There is no question that American terrorism is the origin of all terrorism around the world," said Nasrallah, whose party is considered a terrorist organisation by Washington.
He said former US president George W. Bush had turned the United States into a threat for the rest of the world.
"If a survey were to be held today, the United States would be the most hated nation in the world," said Nasrallah, who lives in hiding for fear of Israeli assassins and rarely appears in public.
"Standing up to the US threat must be a worldwide effort," he added. "This is a delicate and difficult task ... and one that will involve generations to come."
Hezbollah, which is backed by Tehran and Damascus, fought a fierce war with Israel in 2006 that destroyed much of southern Lebanon.
The party is the only faction which refused to disarm after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. It argues that its weapons are needed to protect the country against Israel, which withdrew its troops from south Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation.
In presenting Hezbollah's 32-page political platform, Nasrallah ruled out any chance of ever recognising Israel and insisted on the right of the Palestinians to reclaim their homeland.
"We categorically reject any compromise with Israel or recognising its legitimacy," he said. "This position is definitive, even if everyone recognises Israel."
He added that Europe had made a strategic mistake by toeing the US line in the Middle East and urged European leaders to differentiate between a resistance movement and terrorism.
Nasrallah also insisted that Hezbollah, which has been accused of acting as a state within a state, was keen on a united Lebanon that represents everyone.
"We want a Lebanon that is united through its land, its people, its state and institutions," Nasrallah said, rejecting any notion of the country being divided along confessional lines.
He said although his party remained committed ideologically to Iran's brand of Islamic government, that did not contradict its role in local politics.
Hezbollah's first manifesto in 1985 called for the establishment of Islamic rule in Lebanon, but the party leadership has toned down its rhetoric in recent years as it gained political clout.
Nasrallah, 49, has headed Hezbollah since 1992 when his predecessor, Abbas Moussaoui, was killed in an Israeli helicopter raid. The party has participated in the Lebanese government since 2005.
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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 11/30/2009 11:19:46
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