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Lebanese PM decries Hezbollah's involvement in region's wars

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun, centre, meets with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, right, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, left, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon on Monday

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01st-Dec-2017       
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AP, Beirut  :
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in remarks published Thursday that he fears Hezbollah's military role in regional conflicts will end up costing his country dearly.
But Hariri also stressed he was optimistic that a way to end the political paralysis gripping Lebanon following his Nov. 4 resignation is being worked out.
It is unclear what, if any, concessions Hezbollah would offer to ensure that Hariri remain in office, though Hezbollah officials have said they are keen on finding a political solution to the crisis.
Hariri said his resignation was meant to let the world know that Lebanon cannot tolerate the militant Hezbollah group's meddling in the affairs of Gulf countries - a reference to Yemen, where the kingdom is fighting Shiite rebels. Hezbollah, an Iran ally, denies having a military role in warn-torn Yemen though it openly fights on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria's civil war. Saudi Arabia backs the opposition trying to unseat Assad.
Hariri spoke to the French magazine Paris Mach. He is currently on a private visit to Paris and expected back in Beirut next week, according to his office.
"I wanted the world to understand that Lebanon can no longer tolerate the interferences of a party like Hezbollah in the affairs of the Gulf countries, where 300,000 Lebanese live," Hariri said. "We must not pay for the actions of Hezbollah."
Hariri's resignation, announced while he was in Riyadh, stunned the Lebanese and raised suspicions that it was orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, his main backer. He later returned to Lebanon and put the resignation on hold to allow for consultations.
In a tweet late Wednesday, Hariri said matters are moving "positively" and predicted that he may formally rescind his resignation next week. Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting proxy wars in the Mideast. Hariri has demanded that Hezbollah remove itself from the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah earlier sad his fighters are returning from Iraq now that the Islamic State group has been defeated there.
Hezbollah emerges a winner from Mideast turmoil, alarming foesBEIRUT (Reuters) - When Iran declared victory over Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, it hailed the "strong and pivotal" role played by Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.
The praise, contained in a top general's letter to Iran's Supreme Leader in November, confirmed Hezbollan's pre-eminence among Shi'ite Muslim regional groups backed by Tehran that are helping the Islamic Republic exert influence in the Middle East.
Hezbollah has emerged as a big winner in the turmoil that has swept the Arab world since the uprisings of 2011 that toppled governments in several countries. It has fought in Syria and Iraq, trained other groups in those countries and inspired other forces such as Iran-allied Houthis waging a war in Yemen.
But its growing strength has contributed to a sharp rise in regional tension, alarming Israel, the United States - which designates it as a terrorist organization - and Sunni Muslim monarchy Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional rival, which accuses Hezbollah of having a military role on its doorstep in Yemen.
Israel fears Iran and Hezbollah will keep permanent garrisons in Syria and has called for action against "Iranian aggression". With Hezbollah stronger than ever, war with Israel is seen by many in the region as inevitable, sooner or later.
"Hezbollah has gained from the experience of working with armies and managing numerous weapons systems simultaneously - air power, armored vehicles, intelligence, and drones: all specialties of conventional armies," said a commander in a regional alliance fighting in Syria.
"Hezbollah is now a dynamic army, bringing together guerrilla and conventional warfare."
Hezbollah's elevated status among Iran's regional allies was clear at the funeral this month of Hassan Soleimani, father of Major General Qassem Soleimani who wrote the letter praising Hezbollah's role fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.

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