UN chief criticizes Hezbollah arsenal ahead of visit

UN chief criticizes Hezbollah arsenal ahead of visit Beirut: UN chief Ban Ki-moon was due in Lebanon on Friday after saying he hoped to see Lebanon's rival parties taking "concrete steps" toward the disarmament of Hezbollah.

Ban told the Arabic-language daily An-Nahar, without naming Hezbollah specifically, that disarming the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group was necessary as no state could function properly if it did not monopolise military power.

The UN chief, who was due in Beirut later on Friday at the start of a three-day visit, said he expects negotiations between Hezbollah's camp and the Western-backed opposition in Lebanon to eventually lead to the disarmament of all militias. However he told An-Nahar that he did not expect this to happen overnight.

Hezbollah is the only Lebanese faction that refused to surrender its weapons after the 1975-1990 civil war, arguing they were needed to defend the country against Israeli aggression.

The group fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006 and is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington. It currently dominates the Lebanese government.