Egypt will pursue a relationship with the Hizbullah terror group as a “real political and military force” on the ground in Lebanon, the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon told the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star on Saturday.
Speaking after Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed new constitution was signed in to law, Ambassador Ashraf Hamdy said Egypt would keep contacts “tight,” even with its enemies.
“We are stretching our hand out in the proper, balanced way to all regional powers, but of course, we will continue to develop our foreign policy according to our interests,” he said.
“You cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with Hizbullah. It is a real force on the ground. It has a big political and military influence in Lebanon,” the ambassador told The Daily Star.
Hamdy denied reports that a Hizbullah delegation had visited Egypt but said he had met with members of the group's "political bureau" in an effort “to understand each other better.”
“In discussions we said we want Hizbullah to remain as a political force in Lebanon acting in the interests of the Lebanese first and not others,” Hamdy continued.
“Resistance in the sense of defending Lebanese territory ... That’s their primary role. We ... think that as a resistance movement they have done a good job to keep on defending Lebanese territory and trying to regain land occupied by Israel is legal and legitimate,” he added.
Hizbullah has been designated as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department since 1997. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on the organization's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and other officials.
The U.S. Senate has passed a resolution calling on European countries to designate Hizbullah as a terrorist organization as well.
The group is openly backed by the Iranian regime and, while there have been no diplomatic ties between Egypt and Iran since 1979, the country's current president Mohammed Morsi appeared to be getting closer to the Islamic Republic.
Morsi, who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, visited Iran in August, where he met President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, Morsi's spokesman later said the meeting did not address the issues of bilateral relations or raising the level of diplomatic representation between the two countries.
The Iranian website PressTV reported that Ahmadinejad and Morsi described the two countries as “strategic allies” during the meeting.