EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kimmo Mantyla/Lehtikuva)
The European Union could blacklist Hezbollah's military wing while stressing it
is open to talking to the militant Lebanese movement's political faction, under
a proposal by the EU's foreign policy chief, EU diplomats said on
European governments have been deadlocked over the issue since
May when Britain asked for the Shi'ite Muslim group's military wing to be put on
the EU terror list, citing evidence it was behind a deadly bus bombing in
Bulgaria last year.
Several EU capitals had objected, arguing such a move
could destabilize Lebanon where Hezbollah is part of the government, and
questioning whether there was sufficient evidence linking the group to the
in the seaside resort of Burgas.
Before further talks on the issue
in the coming days, the EU's Catherine Ashton suggested a compromise that could
allay concerns that a blacklisting would complicate the EU's relations with
Two EU diplomats told Reuters the proposal suggests including a
statement the EU "should continue dialogue with all political parties in
Lebanon" and maintain funding to Beirut.
"The proposal on the table makes
it clear the EU is serious about responding to terrorist attacks on its soil," a
diplomat, from a country in favor of blacklisting Hezbollah, said.
British proposal has gained urgency - and some support - in Europe in recent
weeks because of Iranian-backed Hezbollah's deeper involvement in the Syrian
Diplomats say many of the 28 EU member states, including EU
heavyweights France and Germany, back the British proposal. But unanimity is
needed and Austria
, the Czech Republic and Ireland have been among EU
governments that have voiced reservations in the past.
any involvement in the Burgas attack last July that killed five Israelis and
Blacklisting the group would mark a major policy shift for
the European Union, which has resisted pressure from Israel and Washington to do
so for years.
In support of its bid, Britain has also cited a four-year
jail sentence handed down by a Cypriot court in March to a Hezbollah member
accused of plotting to attack Israeli interests on the
Ambassadors of EU states are due to discuss the issue on Thursday
ahead of possible further talks during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in
Brussels on Monday.
A spokeswoman for Ashton said no decisions had been
"Discussions are ongoing and any decision would need unanimity,"
Maja Kocijancic said.