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UN chief alarmed at Hezbollah actions in Egypt

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is alarmed at the public admission by Lebanon s Hezbollah group that it provided support to Gaza-based fighters from Egypt and condemns the unwarranted interference in Egypt s domestic affairs, a UN envoy said Thursday. Terje Roed-Larsen said the secretary-general urges Hezbollah to cease any activities outside of Lebanon and …


UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is alarmed at the public admission by Lebanon s Hezbollah group that it provided support to Gaza-based fighters from Egypt and condemns the unwarranted interference in Egypt s domestic affairs, a UN envoy said Thursday.

Terje Roed-Larsen said the secretary-general urges Hezbollah to cease any activities outside of Lebanon and complete its transformation into a solely Lebanese political party.

The UN chief also reiterates his call for Hezbollah and all other militias operating in Lebanon to be disarmed and demobilized as demanded by a UN Security Council resolution adopted in 2004, he said.

Roed-Larsen is Ban s envoy dealing with implementation of the 2004 resolution, and he discussed Hezbollah s alleged interference in Egypt as he presented Ban s latest report on compliance with the resolution to the Security Council.

Roed-Larsen said that in recent weeks, there has been a growing concern that Hezbollah has engaged in clandestine and illegal militant activities beyond Lebanese territory.

He cited Egypt s announcement on April 8 that it had uncovered a plot by 49 men linked to Hezbollah to destabilize the country by carrying out hostile operations on Egyptian institutions and Israeli tourists.

Two days later, Hezbollah s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, rejected the accusations but admitted a Hezbollah member was in Egypt supervising weapons shipments to the militia s ally, the Palestinian group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip.

Nasrallah said in a televised speech on April 29 that Hezbollah has no intention of setting up a cell in Egypt to destabilize that predominantly Sunni Muslim country.

Roed-Larsen said Egypt s president and foreign minister shared preliminary elements of the investigation into the Hezbollah cell with him during a visit to Cairo on April 26.

In recent correspondence, Roed-Larsen said, Egypt informed the secretary-general that a cell led by a Lebanese member of Hezbollah was uncovered during 2008, and that the Hezbollah operative had visited Egypt over several years using a real passport with a false identity, where he recruited members for the network.

The secretary-general has expressed concern at the statements made by Hezbollah leaders and condemned such unwarranted interference in the domestic affairs of a member state, he said.

Equally alarming was the fact that Hezbollah has publicly admitted to providing support to Gaza-based militants from Egyptian territory, Roed-Larsen said. These activities exceed Hezbollah s stated national agenda.

US Ambassador Susan Rice echoed Ban s condemnation of Hezbollah for its unwarranted interference in Egypt s affairs and his call for Hezbollah to transform itself into a purely political party.

Let me be clear: we see no distinction between these groups so-called political and military wings. Nor will we engage with them until they completely disarm, Rice told the council in closed consultations after Roed-Larsen s public statement, according to a transcript of her remarks released by the US Mission to the UN.

Rice said the United States will continue to support voices of peace and moderation and she called for open and fair parliament elections in Lebanon on June 7 without the specter of violence, the intimidation of militias and the pressure of outside influence.

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