Russia: Hezbollah not a terror group, their cooperation in ISIS fight should be encouraged

Hezbollah forces are fighting in Syria in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is also a Moscow ally.

By REUTERS
November 15, 2015 21:25
1 minute read.
Lebanon's Hezbollah members carry Hezbollah flags during the funeral of Adnan Siblini

Lebanon's Hezbollah members carry Hezbollah flags during the funeral of Adnan Siblini, who was killed while fighting in Syria. (photo credit: REUTERS)

MOSCOW - Moscow does not consider Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying on Sunday.

Russia is seeking an international agreement on what groups active in the Syrian conflict should be deemed terrorist and which can be involved in negotiations for a political settlement, but Moscow's view differs from that of Washington.

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On Saturday, participants at talks in Vienna on Syria agreed that Jordan will coordinate efforts to compile a common list of terrorist groups.

"Some say Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. We maintain contacts and relations with them because we do not consider them a terrorist organization," Bogdanov was quoted as saying on Sunday.

"They have never committed any terrorist acts on Russian territory. Hezbollah was elected by people to the Lebanese parliament. There are cabinet members and ministers who are from Hezbollah in Lebanon. It's a legitimate socio-political force."

Hezbollah forces are fighting in Syria in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is also a Moscow ally.

The United States and European Union classify Hezbollah as having ties to terrorist groups. They also view the group with suspicion because of its close ties to Tehran.

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin held informal talks on the sidelines of a G20 leader summit in Turkey on Sunday, live footage from the meeting showed.

In a 35 minute discussion on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Turkey, the two discussed efforts to find a solution to the conflict, which had been made more pressing by the attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, the official said.

"President Obama and President Putin agreed on the need for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition, which would be proceeded by UN-mediated negotiations between the Syrian opposition and regime as well a ceasefire," the official said.

Obama welcomed efforts by all countries in confronting Islamic State, noting the importance of Russia's military efforts in Syria focusing on the group, the official said.


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