Lebanese speaker warns against discussion over Hezbollah disarmament

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BEIRUT, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri warned against discussion over the disarmament of Hezbollah during the National Dialogue sessions, daily As Safir reported on Tuesday.

"Those who believe that the defense strategy is for disarmament are wrong," Berri told the local newspaper.

He expressed openness to any defensive strategy that calls for "cooperation and integration among the army, the people and the resistance."

The resistance refers to Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah, which holds well equipped and trained militia force, especially in south Lebanon bordering Israel.

Berri, who is also a Shiite, said that UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which demands the disarmament of Hezbollah, must be forgotten.

The UN Resolution 1701 which ended the 2006 war also demanded that Hezbollah be disarmed. But Lebanese new cabinet's policy statement finalized on Nov. 26 said that Hezbollah can keep their arms to resist Israel.

The speaker added that "the Resistance (was formed) in 1982 as a response to the Israeli aggressions, and it will remain present as long as Israel is considered a threat."

Berri also downplayed rumors of a possible Israeli offensive on Lebanon, blaming "known sources for promoting such news."

Lebanese rival leaders have been holding National Dialogue sessions aimed at reaching a national defense strategy in which Hezbollah's arms will be a key issue.

Hezbollah's refusal to give up its arsenal has generated division within Lebanon as well as concern in Israel, which fought with the Shiite group in the summer of 2006.

The Shiite group is the only Lebanese faction which has kept its heavy arms, under the pretext of resisting Israel. They have vowed to keep their arms as long as Israel poses a threat in the region.

Editor: Mu Xuequan