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Tillerson says Hezbollah 'part of political process' in Lebanon

AFP  |  Amman 

US has conceded that Iran-backed is part of the "political process" in Lebanon, appearing to soften Washington's tone ahead of a visit to the country.

"We support a free, democratic free of influence of others, and we know that Lebanese is influenced by This is influence that we think is unhelpful in Lebanon's long-term future," Tillerson said at a press conference in yesterday.

"We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in "

Later, US of State said however that "would be better off without Hezbollah's terrorism and malign influence".

"We will continue our efforts at strengthening those institutions that bolster Lebanon's sovereignty and stability," Goldstein told journalists.

Shiite movement -- the only faction to have retained its weapons after Lebanon's civil war -- is a member of the of

Despite being branded a "terrorist" organisation by the and targeted with economic sanctions, Hezbollah has risen to play a decisive role in regional conflicts including

The in January announced the creation of a special task force to investigate what it called "narcoterrorism" by the powerful movement.

The levied sanctions in early February against six individuals and seven business with alleged links to Hezbollah

The group's influence was last year at the heart of a political crisis in Lebanon that saw Hariri quit -- and then later rescind his resignation -- amid a tug-of-war between regional titans and

In the wake of the crisis Lebanon's political players -- including Hezbollah -- agreed to stick to the country's official policy of "disassociation" to stay out of regional conflicts.

Tillerson is due to meet Lebanon's political leadership today as part of a tour of the

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 15 2018. 03:15 IST