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Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons the Government will be holding discussions with Hezbollah; whether there are any preconditions attached to these discussions; who will be attending these discussions on behalf of the Government; and if he will make a statement. (306093)

Government policy towards Hezbollah is one of limited and considered contacts with some Hezbollah politicians. We will be taking a pragmatic approach by speaking to known moderate political figures who, to the best of our knowledge, have no links with acts of violence.

Other than these, there are no established preconditions at present.

There has only been one specific meeting between our ambassador in Beirut and an Hezbollah MP, Mohammad Raad, on 18 June 2009. During this meeting the ambassador discussed the formation of the new Lebanese Government, and implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Our ambassador pressed for full implementation of 1701, especially in relation to arms.

In the future, where we have contacts, members of our embassy in Beirut will represent the Government accordingly.