The Bush administration will cooperate with efforts by France and the United Nations to integrate Hizbullah into the Lebanese political arena, after years of campaigning against Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, New York Times
The administration's shift in attitude towards the organization is due to its realization that Hizbullah is an enormous political force in Lebanon and may
prove dangerous to oppose it, American, European and U.N. officials say.
America also fears Hizbullah may use its political influence to block Western efforts to get Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon.
The Times also reports that European officials believe the situation with Hizbullah in Lebanon is analogous to that of Hamas,
which won local elections
in Gaza and the West Bank.
Largest protest in Lebanese history
Hizbullah demonstrated its influence on Tuesday, drawing hundreds of thousands of supporters to one of the biggest demonstrations
in Lebanese history, calling for continued Syrian involvement in Lebanon.
And on Wednesday Parliament renominated pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karami nine days after he resigned under pressure from opposition protests.
One diplomat closely following the situation says the
central players are now making Hizbullah a lower priority.
"There is a realization by France and the United States that if you tackle Hizbullah now, you array the Shiites against you," he said. "With elections coming in Lebanon, you don't want the entire Shiite community against you."
U.N. envoy to visit Syria
Meanwhile, U.N. envoy to the Middle East Terje Larsen is scheduled to meet Thursday with Syrian President Bashar Assad, to discuss Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon.
Officially Larson had planned to also demand that Hizbullah disarm, but U.S. government officials say the issue has been dropped from the agenda.