Hezbollah seeks to reassure Lebanon over probe

AP News
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Posted: Dec 01, 2011 3:17 PM
Hezbollah seeks to reassure Lebanon over probe

The leader of Hezbollah sought to reassure Lebanon on Thursday that he has no interest in stirring up trouble over an international investigation that has targeted members of his Shiite militant group.

Lebanon is deeply divided over a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, a former prime minister and billionaire statesman. There were concerns the country could be facing a political crisis after Lebanon agreed to fund the court this week, against the wishes of Hezbollah, the most powerful military and political force in Lebanon.

But on Thursday, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said he will put the country's interests ahead of everything else.

"Although we reject the legitimacy and funding and cooperation with this tribunal, we will not cause problems in the country and we will put national interests above any other consideration," Nasrallah said in a televised appearance.

The investigation into Hariri's death _ and the degree to which the Lebanese authorities should cooperate with it _ has become one of the most divisive issues in Lebanese politics in recent years.

Hezbollah strongly denies any link to the crime and says the court is a Western tool to strike at the anti-Israel group.

Hezbollah and its allies, which hold a majority in the Cabinet, were expected to block the funding for the court during a vote this week.

But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he already had secured Lebanon's $36 million share of funding. Mikati did not say how he secured the money and Nasrallah also said he did not know the details.