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October 11, 2002

Report: Hezbollah fears weakening Iranian support

A delegation of senior representatives from the Hezbollah organization visited Tehran recently to discuss the continued support of the group with senior Iranian government officials, the international Arabic newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat quoted Iranian sources as saying on Saturday.

The newspaper's Iranian affairs correspondent reported that fears were raised among Hezbollah leaders that Tehran's support for the organization might weaken as a result of growing American pressure on Iran. It was noted that the fact that Hezbollah leaders received differing reports regarding continued support of the organization during recent meetings between senior group leaders and Iranian officials.

Last month the brother of Iranian President Mohammed Khatami visited Lebanon, while, according to various reports, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Yahya Rahim Safavi, also visited Lebanon.

The report noted that Hezbollah's fears stemmed from the fact that a news site representing Iran's reformist camp quoted a senior Iranian official as saying that if Khatami and his associates resign from the government, Iran would have to cease its support of the Hezbollah. The report also stated that Iran recently decided to increase its "humanitarian" support for Hezbollah and increase its support for southern Lebanon.

Leaders from Hezbollah and the Lebanese Shi'ite Amal movement met on Friday, after armed activists from each group battled in southern Lebanon, fired on each other, and hurled hand grenades. The fight between the two groups broke out on Thursday when Amal supporters reached one of the villages in the western section of southern Lebanon. This was another battle in a series of conflicts between the two groups in recent weeks, amid a growing struggle for areas of influence in southern Lebanon. Group leaders released a statement in which they announced the need to maintain stability in southern Lebanon.