Suleiman: Cannot disarm Hezbollah while Israel is beating the drums of war

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Lebanon’s president Michel Suleiman says the government cannot ask Hezbollah to give up its weapons at a time of heightened tension with Israel.

“We cannot – and we must not – tell the Resistance, which made a lot of sacrifices and achieved much, to give up its arms and put them under the state’s control in a regional atmosphere fraught with dangers, and while Israel is beating the drums of war daily,” Suleiman was quoted by Ad-Diyar newspaper on Saturday as saying.

A U.N. deal to end the 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite militants required Hezbollah to disarm, but Lebanon’s politicians have been unable to agree on a national defense strategy that would integrate the group’s weapons into the regular armed forces.

President Suleiman said Saturday that Lebanon “cannot and must not” tell Hezbollah to disarm before reaching a deal on a defense strategy that would also address any future Israeli attacks.

“A defense strategy will determine how we can benefit from the Resistance’s weapons,” Suleiman said.

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A recent Israeli claim that Hezbollah’s arsenal includes Scud missiles transferred from Syria has provoked another exchange of warnings between Israel and Lebanon. AP