Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah shot back at UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday, saying that Hezbollah will not give up its weapons and that the top UN official's concern over its armament "pleases" him.

During a visit to the Lebanese capital over the weekend, Ban said he was "deeply concerned about the military capacity of Hezbollah and ... the lack of progress in disarmament." Nasrallah responded a day later, "We want you (the UN), the US and Israel to be concerned."

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“Our concern is that our people are comforted that there is a resistance in Lebanon and we will not allow a new occupation or another violation,” Nasrallah said in a video message to a Shi'ite religious event.

The Hezbollah leader added that he will not disarm or slow the group's armament, saying that path is the "only guarantee" to safeguarding Lebanon. "We confirm that our choice is the path of resistance and the arms of the resistance," he added.

"The resistance," Nasrallah boasted, "is here to stay. Its power and its readiness will continue to grow."

Ban Ki-moon demanded on Friday the disarmament of the anti-Israel movement, which had said his visit to Lebanon was not welcome.

"I am deeply concerned about the military capacity of Hezbollah and ... the lack of progress in disarmament," he told a news conference after meeting Lebanese leaders.

"That is why we discussed this matter very seriously and I strongly encouraged President (Michel) Suleiman to initiate a convening of this national dialogue to address these issues...All these arms outside of the authorized state authority, it's not acceptable," Ban declared.

The UN secretary-general's trip to Lebanon made waves even before he arrived, with one Hezbollah leader saying he was not welcome, a stance criticized by Lebanese politicians opposed to the armed Shi'ite Islamist movement and its Syrian and Iranian patrons.

Hezbollah accepted an expansion of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the south after its devastating 2006 war with Israel, but rejects a UN Security Council resolution that demands that it lay down its military arsenal, as all other Lebanese armed groups did after the 1975-90 civil war.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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