Last updated: 5 February, 2013

Lebanon’s prime minister ready to cooperate over Bulgaria attack

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Tuesday Lebanon is ready to cooperate in investigations into a July bombing in Bulgaria that killed Israeli tourists, after Sofia blamed Hezbollah for the attack.

“Lebanon trusts that the Bulgarian authorities will undertake a serious evaluation of the results of the investigation and affirms that it is ready to cooperate with Bulgaria to shed light on the circumstances” of the attack, said Mikati.

The Bulgarian government said two people with Canadian and Australian passports linked to Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement were behind the July 18 bombing of a bus that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian.

In his remarks issued in a statement, Mikati said Lebanon “renews its condemnation and rejection of any action or attack that targets any Arab or foreign nation”.

He also stressed Lebanon’s “desire to maintain the best of relations with Bulgaria and all EU member states, and to improve them… on a basis of mutual respect”.

Following the Bulgarian government’s announcement, the White House and Israel called on Europe to take action against Hezbollah.

US President Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, his nominee to head the CIA, urged European states to take “pro-active action” to uncover Hezbollah’s infrastructure, financing and operational networks.

Brennan said the attack exposed Hezbollah as “a terrorist group that is willing to recklessly attack innocent men, women, and children, and that poses a real and growing threat not only to Europe, but to the rest of the world.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Bulgarian finding that Hezbollah was behind a deadly bombing should push the EU to draw the “necessary conclusions” about the group, hinting it should be placed on a terror watch list.

“The attack in Burgas was an attack on European soil, against a member state of the European Union,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “We hope that the Europeans will draw the necessary conclusions about the true nature of Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah is the most powerful faction in the Lebanese cabinet, and its militia the most powerful military force in Lebanon.