Hezbollah’s Qassem, Qatari ambassador discuss Syria solution

Hezbollah’s Qassem, Qatari ambassador discuss Syria solution
Tue Dec 17, 2013 08:52:03

Qatar’s new Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Bin Hamad al-Marri has met with Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem in a first meeting with a senior party official, signaling an improvement in ties between the two sides strained by the war in Syria.

The two on Monday discussed the situation in Lebanon and developments in the region, said a terse statement issued by Hezbollah’s media office.

Referring to the deepening political crisis in Lebanon that has left the country without a functioning government for more than eight months, Qassem and the Qatari envoy stressed that cooperation among the rival Lebanese factions was “the remedy that serves this country and all its citizens.”

On the 32-month war in Syria and turmoil in other Arab countries, the two sides asserted that “political solutions in the region are the basis to constructively resolve issues for the interest of its peoples.”

The Daily Star’s attempts to reach the Qatari ambassador for comment were not successful.

In a TV interview earlier this month, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said he had recently received an envoy from Qatar, the first contact between the two sides since differences over the crisis in Syria strained their once-strong relations.

Nasrallah said his party had maintained a channel of communication with Qatar despite differences over the conflict in Syria.

“There is talk between us ... there was a line between us and Qatar, which was reopened [recently] but up to a certain limit,” he said.

Nasrallah said he told the Qatari envoy that a military option was “pointless” in Syria and called for a political solution. Western powers are trying to bring Syrian President Bashar Assad and his opponents together for peace talks in Geneva on Jan. 22.

The Hezbollah group had developed relatively strong ties with Qatar, especially after the Persian Gulf state funded the reconstruction of many Shia villages in south Lebanon destroyed during a 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon.

In 2010 the then-Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, toured south Lebanon, a Hezbollah stronghold, inaugurating several Qatar-funded projects in the village of Bint Jbeil, where Hezbollah and Israel fought fierce battles.

But relations have soured since Qatar supported Syrian militants fighting to overthrow the Assad government.

Hezbollah has been actively involved in Syria, sending fighters to help Syrian forces.

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