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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 18 April, 2014

Gilmore takes cautious approach to Hezbollah and Syria questions

Some EU Member States want to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

Syrian soldiers cheer after battling with rebels during a tour for journalists organized by the Syrian Information Ministry in the Damascus suburb of Jobar earlier this month.
Syrian soldiers cheer after battling with rebels during a tour for journalists organized by the Syrian Information Ministry in the Damascus suburb of Jobar earlier this month.
Image: Bassem Tellawi/AP/Press Association Images

TÁNAISTE AND FOREIGN Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore is to take a cautious approach to the question of placing Lebanese organisation Hezbollah on the European Union’s blacklist of terrorist groups.

The Labour leader is in Brussels today for talks with Foreign Ministers on the EU’s response to the Syrian crisis, including efforts to prevent spill-over into neighbouring Lebanon, where Irish troops continue to serve.

Following suggestions from other Member States that Hezbollah should be blacklisted for the assistance it is providing to Syrian President Bashar Assad, there will be a discussion on the best course of action.

Gilmore has urged caution on the issue as the political arm of Hezbollah has been key to Lebanese administrations. Last Friday, the current government told Brussels that Hezbollah is an “essential component of Lebanese society”. Ireland is also concerned that any declaration by the EU could destabilise the area.

Great Britain has supported listing the military wing of the organisation as a terrorist group. Such a move would require the agreement of all 28 Member States.

If unanimous, it will be illegal for Europeans to send money or for diplomats to meet its militant staff. Hezbollah is already on America’s blacklist, as well as those kept by Canada, the UK and the Netherlands.

During today’s meeting, Gilmore will also brief his counterparts on Ireland’s decision to send troops to serve with UN Forces on the Golan Heights.

There will also be mention of the ongoing situation in Egypt and other questions relating to the Middle East peace process.

Focus: More than two years of conflict in Syria

More: Ireland wants to send troops to Syria

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