Lebanon News

Rifi meets Hezbollah official 'to restore contact'

File - Retired Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi.

BEIRUT: Senior Hezbollah security official Wafiq Safa met with Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi to congratulate him on his appointment and to "restore" communication channels.

“The meeting with Safa was in the framework of restoring contacts that already existed [with Hezbollah] for the protection of Lebanon,” Rifi told reporters at Baabda Palace after Cabinet’s first session Tuesday.

Rifi also said he discussed with Safa “the possibility of removing any illegitimate checkpoints from the the Arsal-Labweh road," apparently referring to checkpoints established by Hezbollah on the east Lebanon road after several deadly bombings nearby targeting predominantly-Shiite towns in the northern Bekaa.

A media report, published by Al-Akhbar daily, said the meeting was held on Monday morning at Rifi's residence in Ashrafieh.

It was attended by in the head of the Internal Security Forces Information Branch, Col. Imad Othman, and ISF Operations Room Chief Col. Hussam al-Tannoukhi.

Safa also reportedly contacted newly-appointed Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk to congratulate him.

The report described the meeting as “positive” and characterized it as a "continuation of the successful Cabinet formation process."

Rifi has repeatedly voiced criticism of Hezbollah, while the March 8 alliance, for its part, rejected a proposal that would have seen Rifi take over as interior minister.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam announced a 24-member Cabinet of national interest Saturday.





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