It's getting worse and worse. Hamas is next.
The Obama administration is "comfortable" with the British government's attempts to engage Hizbullah, a senior British diplomat asserts.
Bill Rammell, Britain's minister of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, said in a brief interview late last week that despite protests to the contrary, the new US administration doesn't object to the fledgling contacts with the "political win" of the Lebanon-based Shi'ite Muslim group, which also has a heavily armed militia.
Britain likens the attempt to engage Hizbullah, launched quietly this year, to London's outreach to political leaders of the Irish Republican Army earlier - a move that helped quell the Northern Ireland conflict.
Another British diplomat said George W. Bush administration officials harshly criticized the idea of approaching Hizbullah last year. Americans worried "it would be seen as a policy coordinated with the US government," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In a meeting last week with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, Rammell also said London was ready to engage with Hamas, if it renounced violence.
"I would like to talk to Hamas, but we need change before engaging in that position," he said at the meeting.
He added that Hizbullah also must reject violence before any dialogue could broaden.
Rammell, who ended a two-day visit to Syria on Thursday, said the West must acknowledge what he described as "positive changes" that have taken place in Lebanon over the last few months, including the formation of a unity government and the appointment of a consensus president supported by US-backed political groups and the Hizbullah-led camp.
Rammell noted Hizbullah's increased involvement in Lebanon's ordinary political life, with "Hizbullah (lawmakers) sitting side by side with their opponents" in the legislative chamber.