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French President Macron told Hezbollah MP 'prove you are Lebanese'

Macron has made two visits to Lebanon over the past month [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 September, 2020

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The French president reportedly met the Hezbollah official last month.
France President Emmanuel Macron reportedly met a Hezbollah lawmaker when he visited Beirut last month and told the official to "prove you're Lebanese", due to the movement's links with Iran.

The meeting took place during Macron's 6 August visit to Beirut, following a devastating blast that destroyed much of the city, Le Figaro reported.

There, he spent eight minutes with Mohammed Raad, head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, which marked the first time a French leader has met an official from the movement since its establishment in 1982.

The French president told Raad that he wanted to work with Hezbollah on finding a solution to the Lebanese political and economic crisis but that he must prove his loyalty is to Beirut and not Tehran.

"I want to work with you to change Lebanon but prove that you are Lebanese," he told Raad, according to Le Figaro, referring to the movement's close links with Iran.

"Everyone knows that you have an Iranian agenda. We know your history very well, we know your particular identity, but you are Lebanese, yes or no? You want to help the Lebanese, yes or no?"

Hezbollah has been accused of serving as proxy for Tehran, fighting numerous wars with arch-regional rival Israel and a number of Lebanese political forces since its establishment in 1982.

It has also been accused of carrying out the 1983 Beirut bomb attack on buildings hosting the UN-backed Multinational Force in Lebanon, killing 53 French soldiers along with scores more US military personnel and Lebanese civilians.

Hezbollah is the only one of Lebanon's various political forces to maintain a militia force, arguably in order to protect the country from Israeli attacks.

Its political wing is immensely powerful, viewed as deciding whether Lebanese governments are established and making its consensus to any major developments in Lebanon key.

While the French government has not acknowledged the meeting, Hezbollah said that talks between Macron and one of its officials had given the movement "international recognition".

A number of French MPs signed a letter to the EU and Paris government calling on them to designate Hezbollah's political wing as a "terrorist organisation", in response to the reported meeting.

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