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    Lebanon’s Hezbollah may open representative office in Russia

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    Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement is reportedly considering opening a representative office in the Russian capital Moscow, according to a report published yesterday by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

    The development follows a high-level meeting between Russian officials and a delegation from the movement last month.

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    The delegation, received by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, was headed by Mohammad Raad, head of the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, which includes the political wing of Hezbollah and forms part of Lebanon’s parliament.

    Raad’s last visit to Moscow was in October 2011 and was Hezbollah’s first official visit to Russia upon invitation by the Russian parliament.

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    “The Russians do not view Hezbollah as a Lebanese organisation. Rather, it is a party that has a presence in many countries of the region,” the article explained.

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    The situation in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and others were discussed in the meeting with both sides stressing “the need to strengthen means of communication between them, and to adopt direct channels of communication between the party and Moscow while studying the possibility of establishing a representative office for the party in the Russian capital.”

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    The meeting on March 15 was noteworthy in that two days after the arrival of the Hezbollah delegation, Moscow also received Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

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    The talks were also held on the same day that two Russian deputy foreign ministers met with the Israeli foreign ministry’s deputy director-general.

    The Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman opined that the development could see Hezbollah achieving more political legitimacy at the hands of Russia and questioned the timing of the report surfacing a month after the meetings, which could “be designed to go along with the Iranian foreign minister’s trip to Central Asia and the visit to Iraq of the head of IRGC Quds Force.”

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