Hezbollah leaders refuse to meet former US president, spokesman says
Officials from the radical Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah have refused to meet former US president Jimmy Carter, who is on a two-day visit to Lebanon, Carter's spokesman Rick Jafculca said Wednesday.
Carter requested the meeting with the Iran-backed movement, which is listed as a terrorist group by Washington, as part of a visit to Lebanon to assess whether his Carter Centre will monitor a legislative election next year, reported dpa.
The spokesman confirmed a meeting had been requested with Hezbollah, but added that the group "were not able to meet" Carter, Jafculca told Deutsche Presse-Agnetur dpa.
Carter's Lebanon visit, which started on Tuesday, will be followed by a trip to neighboring Syria.
Carter's talks in Syria include a meeting with President Bashar al- Assad, whose ties with the United States remain strained despite the fact that relations with other Western states like France and Britain have improved.
Carter is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Hamas officials in Damascus.
Hezbollah enjoys wide backing by the Shiite community in Lebanon and is represented in Lebanon's parliament and government. Lebanon is expected to hold a parliamentary election by May 2009.