BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian conflict where it is fighting alongside government forces is legitimate, as long as foreign fighters are swelling the ranks of the opposition, Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said in comments published Tuesday.
Separately, Zasypkin affirmed that a Russian arms deal for Lebanon is on the right track, according to a statement released by the office of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri after a meeting between the two.
“The party (Hezbollah) will remain engaged in the fight to aid the legitimate regime as long as fighters from dozens of countries are streaming into [Syria] to fight against the regime…,” Zasypkin said in an interview with daily newspaper An-Nahar.
“In such emergencies, the need is to focus on combating terrorism and fundamentalist, not stir strife,” Zasypkin added.
Asked about prospects of a political solution to the Syrian conflict in the near future, Zasypkin argued that chances have dimmed due to the situations in the region and internationally.
“The U.S. is taking advantage of the Ukrainian crisis to undermine Russia and this has reflected negatively on global issues and disrupted any settlements,” Zasypkin added.
The Russian envoy lauded Lebanese rival factions for their engagement to conduct dialogue which he said “is strongly requested” to deal with “existing challenges and dangers.
“Foreign countries support this dialogue, especially that it touches on not only Lebanese, but also regional issues, and I mean primarily combating terrorism and extremism,” An-Nahar quoted him as saying.
Hezbollah and the Future Movement launched talks in December aimed at easing sectarian tensions exacerbated by the Syrian conflict, while preparations are underway to have a similar dialogue between Christian rivals, the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement.
“We want the most suitable president for Lebanon,” Zasypkin said, noting that settling the presidential stalemate is linked to all Lebanese factions, not only Christians.
A statement released by Hariri’s media office said Zasypkin commended the ex-premier and Future Movement leader for engaging in dialogue with Hezbollah, and reassured him that a Russian arms deal for Lebanon was on track.
“We are in continuous contact with Mr. Hariri on political dialogue as well as reinforcing the capacities of the Lebanese Army and security agencies,” the statement quoted Zasypkin as saying.
He said the meeting with Hariri focused on the implementation of bilateral contracts for supplying Lebanon with Russian weapons, refuting allegations that Hariri was seeking to disrupt or delay the delivery of the arms.
“Work is underway to complete the arms deal for Lebanon and we expect tangible results that would benefit the Lebanese state (soon),” Zasypkin said.Lebanon is seeking to buy Russian weapons from a $1 billion Saudi grant to Lebanon.
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