Jan 03 2013

Nasrallah warns against spread of Syrian crisis into Lebanon

Beirut, Jan 3, IRNA

Lebanese Hezbollah's Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah in a speech here on Thursday cautioned against the spread of the Syrian crisis into Lebanon.

Nasrallah urged the Lebanese government to maintain its dissociation policy over the Syrian crisis and at the same time to back a political solution to end months-long conflict in Lebanon's neighbor.

He also warned against politicizing the case of the growing number of Syrians fleeing to Lebanon, saying Lebanon should deal with their plight on humanitarian grounds.

'I'm not asking the Lebanese government to abandon its disassociation policy ... but to develop Lebanon's political stance to put pressure and help those who support a political reconciliation and dialogue in Syria,' Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

Nasrallah also praised the government as well as his party for their stances towards the unrest in Syria, saying that "thanks to our stance and the stance of the current Lebanese government with regard to the Syrian crisis that fighting in Syria has been prevented from spreading to us,' he said.

His remarks came during a ceremony in the Bekaa Valley marking the Arbaeen, the 40 days that follow the annual Ashoura commemorations over the martyrdom of Imam Hussein in 680 AD.

In his speech, Nasrallah also criticized the opposition March 14 alliance, noting that 'if the other team was in government, they would have involved Lebanon in fighting inside Lebanon and in Syria,' said Nasrallah.

Turning to the growing presence of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which has provoked mixed responses in the country, Nasrallah insisted their case be dealt in a humanitarian manner and rejected the idea of closing the border to them.

'We should deal with the presence of the Syrian refugees in a purely humanitarian manner and avoid politicizing it,' he said.

'The Syrian families should be taken care of by the Lebanese government, whether they are with the opposition or the government or in between,' he added.

Nasrallah said Thursday that a political solution in Syria would help stop the bloodshed there and open the way for refugees in Lebanon to return home.

Noting that Lebanon is a country most vulnerable to the events in Syria, Nasrallah urged the government to appeal to various states and bodies to help ease the strains on the country.

The Hezbollah leader also touched on the case of the remaining nine Lebanese pilgrims being held in Syria and called on the government to negotiate directly with the kidnappers after it failed to secure their release using Turkish mediators.

"The way the government has dealt with this case is not satisfactory with all due respect to the efforts by officials ... but now is the time to directly negotiate with the kidnappers and designate a Lebanese official to do so," he said.

Eleven Shiite Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped in Syria's Aleppo district on May 22 last year as they were making their way back by land from a pilgrimage in Iran. One of the hostages was released in late August and another in September.

The Hezbollah leader, who has vowed to defend Lebanon against any possible aggression by the Zionist regime, said his group was also ready to draft and put in place a strategy to protect the country's oil and gas wealth.

"We call on the state to put forward a national strategic plan and if they want to leave it up to us, we are ready to defend Lebanon's fossil fuel resources," he said.

"In order to protect the national oil resources, the resistance is ready to do whatever is asked of it," Nasrallah said, describing the potential reserves as "a national, historic opportunity to lift Lebanon" from its socioeconomic crisis.

Last year, the Hezbollah chief warned Zionist regime against attempts aimed at plundering Lebanon's offshore gas and oil reserves and threatened to target Israel's oil installations in case Lebanon's oil facilities were attacked.

© IRNA 2013

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