US unhappy with UK decision to reach out to Hizbullah

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Jerusalem, Mar 14 (ANI): A senior US official has expressed strong disagreement with the British decision to begin contacts with Lebanese terror group Hizbullah.

The British Government hold an opposing view of the terror group, and this is their basis for dealing with the political organization.

President Barack Obama's Administration does not view Hizbullah as an entity with separate military, political and social wings, according to a top US official.

Hizbullah, which is now part of the Lebanese Government, is officially listed in the US as a terror organization.

"We don't see the differences between the integrated leadership that they see," the Los Angeles Times quoted the official, as saying.

Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman, said last week that the US was not ready to follow the British example, but did not criticize the British decision.

The Obama Administration's readiness to reach out to adversary regimes, such as Syria and Iran, has been a hallmark of its new foreign policy, but this has so far not extended to groups on its official terrorist registry, such as Hizbullah and Hamas.

A State Department official explained that the difference is that governments such as Syria and Iran, though they may support terrorism, can be productively engaged because as governments they can be swayed on the basis of their national interest.

Unlike terrorist groups, "they have the interests of states and may respond to interaction," the official said.

The US official said he was appalled that Hizbullah has been hanging posters in Lebanon celebrating Imad Mughniyeh, an accused terrorist mastermind that the group has long insisted was not connected to their organization.

Mughniyeh, assassinated in Damascus in February 2008, was held responsible for a long list of terrorist attacks and also had a US bounty on his head, The Jerusalem Post reported. (ANI)

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