Carter says he's disappointed
Photo: Reuters
Carter regrets not meeting Hizbullah leaders
Former US president expresses disappointment at Hizbullah's refusal to meet him

Former US President Jimmy Carter said Friday that he would have been "delighted" to meet Hizbullah members and that he regrets the meeting didn't take place during his current visit to Lebanon.


The former US leader had said he was ready to meet Hizbullah but they refuse to meet current or former US presidents.


Carter has offered that his Atlanta-based Carter Center monitor Lebanon's parliament elections next year. The vote will be fiercely contested between Western-backed anti-Syrian groups that hold majority seats in the current 128-member parliament and a Hizbullah-led coalition supported by Syria and Iran.


During a lecture at the American University of Beirut at the end of his visit Friday, Carter expressed disappointment that Hizbullah refused to see him.


"We came here with the hope that we can meet with all the political parties and factions in Lebanon," he said. "If the leaders of Hizbullah wanted to meet with me, I would have been delighted."

A senior Hizbullah contacted by The Associated Press declined to comment on Carter's readiness to meet with the group.


In his speech Friday in Beirut, Carter said Iran and Syria - both supporters of the Hizbullah and Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad - could have a major role in Mideast peacemaking efforts.


Carter also urged President-elect Barack Obama to take a "leadership role" in the peacemaking process.

"I'm ... very hopeful that our new president will take a leadership role," he said.


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