Report: Hizbullah refuses to meet with Carter

Former US president scheduled to meet Suleiman, Saniora in Beirut, Assad in Syria.

carter looking old in beirut 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
carter looking old in beirut 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Hizbullah officials have refused to meeting with former US president Jimmy Carter, Reuters reported Wednesday, quoting a Carter spokesman. Upon arrived in Beirut on Tuesday, Carter had said, "I understand that several leaders of Hizbullah said they were not going to meet with any president or former president of the United States, so I don't know yet." No official Hizbullah statement was reported. Carter made his comments upon arrival in Lebanon, where he will assess whether his Atlanta-based Carter Center will take part in monitoring next year's parliamentary elections. Asked whether he would meet with Hizbullah officials during his five-day visit, Carter told reporters that it was up to the group, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. "I am going to meet with all of the political parties as possible," Carter said. A Hizbullah official told The Associated Press the group had no immediate comment on Carter's remarks but said it might issue a statement, most likely on Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media. Washington blames Hizbullah for the explosion that killed 241 US Marines at 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. Hizbullah denies the accusations, and says it opposes terrorism. Carter was widely criticized in April when he met in Syria with the exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal. The US also labels Hamas a terrorist organization. The Mashaal-Carter meeting led to the delivery of a handwritten letter from kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Hamas-linked terrorists near the Gaza border in 2006, to his parents. While in Lebanon, Carter said he will meet with President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. "I will also be making an assessment on whether the Carter Center will monitor the elections that we hope will be held on time next June," Carter said. Next year's elections are expected to be fierce between US-backed groups that hold majority seats in the current parliament and those backed by Syria, including Hizbullah. Carter is also scheduled to travel to Syria during his Mideast trip to meet with President Bashar Assad.