Germany will not classify Iran-backed Hezbollah as a terror group, a senior government official said, despite the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel pressuring allies to ban the organisation in a blow to Tehran's influence in the Middle East.
Niels Annen, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, said in an interview with Der Spiegel that Lebanese stability is in Germany's interest and that the federal government will abstain from banning the Lebanon-based group.
He also rejected US criticism that Berlin was not putting enough efforts into tackling Iran's influence in the region, stressing that Germany's foreign policy was focused on finding political solutions even in complex situations.
The German government has repeatedly refused to "fully" ban Hezbollah; federal intelligence agencies believing almost 1,000 members from the group are active in the country, raising funds and recruiting new members.
Late last month, Britain became the latest country to outlaw Hezbollah's political wing, joining the likes of the United States, the Arab League, Bahrain, Canada, France, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, and the UAE.
Annen called Britain's move a "national measure" that will have "no direct impact" on the position of Germany or the European Union.
Lebanon's foreign minister strongly rejected the decision but said that it would not have direct negative consequences for his nation.
Hezbollah also condemned London's ban in a statement. "The British government, by adopting this decision, has insulted the feelings, emotions and will of the Lebanese people, who consider Hezbollah to be a significant political and popular force and granted it a large representation in parliament and in the new government," the group said.
Hezbollah is a Shiite paramilitary and political organisation, which was founded in the 1980s to fight Israeli occupation forces. Hezbollah has been instrumental in fighting terrorists in Syria, whose attacks were often directed at the country's Shiite minority.
Although Hezbollah initially emerged as a militant resistance movement, it has amassed political influence, and its political wing currently has three cabinet positions in the Lebanese government, including the Ministry of Health.
Tel Aviv and Washington have accused the organisation, which receives financial backing from Tehran, of receiving weapons from the Islamic Republic in violation of international law. Iran denies that it supplies arms to the group.