French Presidential Aide Meets Hezbollah Official

January 18, 2014  

A French presidential aide held talks on Friday in Beirut with a Hezbollah official, the movement said, AFP reported.

The meeting comes months after the EU listed the group’s so-called “military wing” as a terrorist organization.

Hezbollah said its international relations chief Ammar al-Moussawi discussed regional and local developments with Emmanuel Bonne, French President Francois Hollande’s adviser for Middle East affairs.

A French embassy source told AFP that Bonne was in Lebanon for “talks with all political parties” and would be joined on Monday by the French army’s chief of staff, Admiral Edouard Guillaud.

It was the first meeting of its kind between a French official and a Hezbollah leaders since July 22, when the European Union listed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization.

At the time the EU stressed it will continue to dialogue with all the parties in Lebanon and as such, chose not to blacklist Hezbollah’s political arm, which is a key party in the Lebanese government.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, responded to the EU’s decision by likening the separation between Hezbollah’s “military” and “political” arms to trying to distinguish between one’s left arm and right arm.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said at the time that the EU had only gone “half way” by failing to blacklist Hezbollah’s political arm as well.

Friday’s meeting also comes just weeks after Saudi Arabia and France pledged to help arm the Lebanese army.

On December 29 Lebanon announced that Saudi Arabia had pledged $3 billion for the Lebanese army to buy French equipment.

Hollande, who was visiting Riyadh at the time, later said France was ready to “meet” any requests by the Lebanese government to arm the army.

The EU said it added Hezbollah’s military wing to its list of terror organizations because of “evidence” it was involved in an attack in Bulgaria in July 2012 that killed seven people, including five Israelis.

Hezbollah says it will not disarm because it is committed to “resisting” the Jewish state.

Unlike the EU, Bahrain has gone all the way with Hezbollah and in April of 2013 became the first Arab country to blacklist the group as a terrorist organization.

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