France president advisor meets Hezbollah official in Beirut

French President Francois Hollande’s adviser for Middle East affairs was in Lebanon for “talks with all political parties,” according to an embassy source. (File photo: Reuters)

A French presidential aide held talks Friday in Beirut with a Hezbollah official, the Shiite movement said, months after the EU listed the group's military wing as a terrorist organization.

Hezbollah said its international relations chief Ammar al-Moussawi discussed regional and local developments with Emmanuel Bonne, French President Francois Hollande's adviser for Middle East affairs.

A French embassy source told AFP Bonne was in Lebanon for "talks with all political parties" and would be joined on Monday by the French army's chief of staff, Admiral Edouard Guillaud.

It was the first meeting of its kind between a French official and a Hezbollah leaders since July 22 when the European Union listed Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist organization.

But at the time the EU stressed it will continue to dialogue with all the parties in Lebanon.

The meeting also comes just weeks after Saudi Arabia and France pledged to help arm the Lebanese army.

On December 29 Lebanon announced that Saudi Arabia had pledged $3 billion for the Lebanese army to buy French equipment.

Hollande, who was visiting Riyadh at the time, later said France was ready to "meet" any requests by the Lebanese government to arm the army.

The EU said it added Hezbollah's military wing to its list of terror organizations because of "evidence" it was involved in an attack in Bulgaria in July 2012 that killed seven people, including five Israelis.

Hezbollah's sworn enemy is Israel, and the group, which has representatives in parliament and in the government, says it will not disarm because it is committed to "resisting" the Jewish state.

Last May, Hezbollah admitted it was sending fighters into Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad's troops in their war to crush a rebellion that was born from an uprising demanding political change.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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