Sunday, 24 May 2009

Miliband: Hezbollah, Hamas among Groups That Have Patriotic Aim

Below is a translation of my interview with FS Miliband - Almanar.

Resuming the openness policy towards Hezbollah, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband said that his country has always sought dialogue with Hezbollah officials.
In an interview with the daily pan-Arab al-Hayat on Sunday Miliband said that both Hezbollah and Hamas could be seen among groups that have a patriotic aim, adding that "our stance has always been up to the assassination of Lebanon's ex-premier Rafik Hariri in 2005 was to dialogue with Hezbollah MPs. However, this stopped following the Hariri assassination."

He added that the military wing of the party continues to be regarded as a “terrorist organization” in the United Kingdom.

"But we agreed to resume our dialogue with Hezbollah MPs partially because they have a cabinet minister in Lebanon and the fact that the Lebanese government is committed to the Arab peace process," Miliband said.

The British foreign secretary directed his attention to armed groups saying: "I would like to say to all armed militias, end your armed work and engage yourselves into the political process. We want people to be respected for their ideas in a political framework; you cannot be partially in the political process and at the voting poll while part of you is still carrying a gun."

Miliband admitted that the Iraq war constituted on of the major misunderstandings between the Arab and western worlds. "We said that the peace process in Iraq was not built as should be. However, I don't want to look backward but forward and I must understand history. This is what I have attempted to reflect in my Oxford speech. If we cling to the past we will achieve nothing," he said.

Last Thursday British Foreign Secretary David Miliband sought to reach out to Muslim nations, calling for a new coalition with the West based on consent. In a speech to the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, he said that relations with the Muslim world had been "skewed" by terrorism, while invasion of Iraq had left a legacy of "bitterness and resentment".

He stressed the importance of achieving an early resolution to the Middle East conflict, with the establishment of a Palestinian state, as the key to improving relations, and acknowledged also the need for Western nations to work with countries and organizations whose values they did not share in the pursuit of common interests.

The British Foreign Secretary said that, for centuries, relations between Europe and the Islamic world had been characterized by "conquest, conflict, and colonialism" and that there was now a need to address the grievances that "keep Muslims down".

He called for a renewed sense of urgency in the effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with “more political activism and more diplomatic engagement

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