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  Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Lebanon's parliament speaker and leader of a Shi'ite movement with links to the Hizbollah Islamic group will visit Russia in early October
Lebanon's parliament speaker and leader of a Shi'ite movement with links to the Hizbollah Islamic group will visit Russia in early October, the Lebanese Embassy in Moscow said Thursday. Speaker Nabih Berri was the only mediator on behalf of Hizbollah, also comprised of Shi'ites who have emerged as a major force in Lebanon in recent years, in more than 30 days of fighting with Israel. "Nabih Berri's visit is expected on October 1, but this is not a final date and it could be changed," an embassy official said. The news came against the backdrop of the Russian foreign minister's visit to Lebanon. In Beirut, Sergei Lavrov reiterated Thursday that dialogue with Islamic radical groups Hizbollah and Hamas in the Palestinian Authority was necessary to encourage their responsibility for the Lebanese and Palestinian people. Russia provoked anger in some countries February, when it invited a Hamas delegation to Moscow. The group won a landslide victory during elections to the Palestinian Authority in January. Lavrov said the movements, considered by Israel to be terrorist organizations, were heavily represented in the governments and parliaments of Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. He said Russia had never qualified those movements as terrorist groups, and that there was no such decision on behalf of the United Nations. But he said the responsibility of these movements presumes "an unconditional renunciation of terrorist methods for solving problems, recognition of Israel as a state, and the need to accept all current agreements reached through talks between Israel and Arabs." Lavrov also proposed that Russia send combat engineers to help Lebanon restore bridges and other infrastructure destroyed during the war. "We have proposed that the Lebanese government consider our offer of assistance from the Russian army's combat engineering units to restore the bridges the country needs today," Lavrov said after a meeting with the Lebanese premier, adding that consultations on the issue would begin soon. Fighting between Hizbollah and Israel claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Lebanese and about 160 Israelis. Lebanon's southern regions formerly controlled by Hizbollah fighters were left in ruins and thousands of people were forced to flee their homes. Lavrov also said Russia could provide financial aid to Lebanon through UN bodies. Russia has already provided $2 million worth of aid to the country during the crisis, as it had sent four aircraft with goods requested by the Lebanese government.
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