Beirut awaits U.S. diplomatic efforts

Dec. 18, 2009 at 1:40 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Beirut is waiting for the effects of U.S. diplomatic efforts as disputes over the right of Hezbollah to maintain an armed resistance drags on, lawmakers said.

Beirut in a national policy statement voted to allow Hezbollah to maintain its armed resistance so long as a threat from Israel persists.

The measure is in contradiction to a U.N.-brokered cease-fire ending a 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. That measure obligates Hezbollah to disarm, while reminding Israel of its duty to respect Lebanese sovereignty.

Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, addressed the issue with Frederick Hoff, a top adviser to U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell, during meetings in Beirut, Hezbollah's al-Manar news station reports.

Berri complained ahead of a visit to the region by Mitchell that Israel was in constant violation of the cease-fire.

Border tensions escalated during the summer, with Beirut complaining of repeated Israeli violations of Lebanese territory. Israel, for its part, pointed to Hezbollah weapons amassed along the southern Lebanese border.

During his visit with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, U.S. President Barack Obama said he was interested in resolving regional issues through dialogue, but expressed concern regarding the weapons issue.

Berri said Lebanese lawmakers "are waiting to see what U.S. diplomatic action can achieve in that respect."

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