US slams Hizbullah actions in Egypt

Ambassador to UN echoes Ban's call for guerrilla group to transform itself into purely political party.

Susan Rice 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Susan Rice 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice on Thursday night echoed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's condemnation of Hizbullah for its "unwarranted interference" in Egypt's affairs and his call for the guerrilla group 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, 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." Earlier, a UN envoy said Ban was alarmed at Hizbullah's public admission that it provided support to Gaza-based terrorists from Egypt and that the UN chief condemned the "unwarranted interference" in Egypt's domestic affairs. Terje Roed-Larsen said the secretary-general urges Hizbullah to "cease any militant activities outside of Lebanon and complete its transformation into a solely Lebanese political party." The UN chief also reiterates his call for Hizbullah and all other terror groups 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 Hizbullah'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 Hizbullah 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 Hizbullah to destabilize the country by carrying out "hostile operations" on Egyptian institutions and Israeli tourists. Two days later, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah rejected the accusations but admitted a Hizbullah member was in Egypt supervising weapons shipments to Hamas. Nasrallah said in a televised speech on April 29 that Hizbullah had no intention of setting up a cell in Egypt to destabilize the predominantly Sunni Muslim country. Roed-Larsen said Egypt's president and foreign minister shared preliminary elements of the investigation into the Hizbullah 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 Hizbullah was uncovered during 2008, and that the Hizbullah 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 Hizbullah leaders and condemned such unwarranted interference in the domestic affairs of a member state," he said. "Equally alarming was the fact that Hizbullah has publicly admitted to providing support to Gaza-based militants from Egyptian territory," Roed-Larsen said. "These activities exceed Hizbullah's stated national agenda."