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Rice asks Hezbollah to disarm

india Updated: Oct 28, 2006 12:15 IST
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The United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stepped up international pressure on Hezbollah to disarm, saying in a television interview that the guerrilla group must surrender its weapons if it wants to remain part of Lebanon's political process.

Rice urged Hezbollah to lay down its arms according to the ceasefire that ended its 34-day war with Israel last summer, and choose between being a militant group and a legitimate political organisation.

Hezbollah is under heavy international pressure to surrender its weapons, but the Iranian- and Syrian-backed group -- which holds 11 seats in the Lebanese parliament and two spots in the Cabinet -- has refused to disarm.

"If Hezbollah wants to be in politics Hezbollah should be disarmed. You cannot have one foot in terror and the use of violence and the other foot in politics. It just doesn't work that way," Rice said in an interview aired on Friday.

"Hezbollah has to decide whether it's going to maintain its terrorist wing and remain a terrorist organization or whether it's going to be part the political process," she said.

The interview was taped at Rice's office in Washington, and conducted by May Chidiac, a Lebanese journalist who lost an arm and a leg in car bombing in Lebanon in September 2005.

The US government has labelled Hezbollah a terrorist organization and blames it for the deaths of 241 US Marines in the bombing of their Beirut barracks in 1983, as well as for two attacks on the US embassy in Beirut and the 1985 TWA hijacking that killed an American serviceman on board.

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